This is an archived press release
Friday 7 August 2015
Plans for a hydroelectric power scheme on the River Derwent at Chatsworth have been given the go ahead today (Friday August 7) by national park planners.
Members of the planning committee voted unanimously to approve the scheme which will see two small scale hydroelectric generators built next to the weirs on the river in the historic parkland.
Paul Ancell, who chairs the Peak District National Park planning committee, said: “In determining this planning application we had to decide whether or not the impact of the development would harm the historic landscape and heritage assets within Chatsworth’s parkland, and whether the benefits of the scheme would be in the public interest and outweigh any harm.
“We closely examined the proposal to be clear about the visual impact of the new structures and any impact their construction might have on historic features – Chatsworth is an important element in the national park and provides one of the most looked at and enjoyed landscapes in the Peak District.”
Chatsworth receives some 750,000 visitors every year.
The impact on the historic landscape has been analysed and reported on by experts from Historic England, Natural England and the National Park Authority. A series of photographs depicting how the hydroelectric stations would look in the parkland setting were shown at the planning committee meeting.
Friends of the Peak District’s director Andy Tickle said at the meeting that the scheme could be regarded as “an evolution of the living, working landscape that changes with time but stays beautiful for ever”. He also said “the national park should be pivotal in moving the nation towards using more low carbon technologies”.
The planning committee members considered the Peak District’s heritage of water-powered mills that harnessed energy from rivers – particularly along the River Derwent – and celebrated in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (Cromford to Derby).
Paul Ancell added: “In the interests of climate change it is to everyone’s benefit that attractions such as Chatsworth are able to reduce their carbon emissions. We share the same aims in reducing negative impacts of energy use on the environment as well as conserving the landscape.
“We are happy that the level of visual impact this small scale hydroelectric scheme will have in the landscape is acceptable – the Chatsworth parkland contains features from different periods and it is fitting that this 21st century development will help ensure the estate is sustainable into the future.”
Although the hydroelectric installations will be visible from some rights of way and viewpoints on the estate, overall the intrusion was not considered significant.
The new riverside structures will be built of local stone and partly screened by existing woodland. They will be seen set low in the view against a backdrop of trees or grassland. A number of oak trees will also be planted nearby in places that historically have had trees. A pole mounted transformer will also be installed but this will be disguised within existing woodland.
The planning permission includes planning conditions that will ensure that archaeological work is completed before construction starts, that habitats are created to protect biodiversity, that the structures are made safe for the public to be near, and that interpretation is provided on site.