Two hydro-electricity schemes in Wharfedale will soon be adding green energy to the National Grid – thanks to the power of the River Wharfe.

Old turbines at Whiteley’s Mill, by Pool-in-Wharfedale, are expected to be creating electricity within the next few months while at Greenholme Mills, near Burley-in-Wharfedale, newer technology will be used to harness the river’s energy next year.

Both projects have been hailed by environmental group Sustainable and Renewable Energy for Wharfedale (Sure) and will create a combined output of about 400 kilowatts per hour (kWh) during high river conditions.

Derbyshire-based firm Derwent Hydro, which is involved in both initiatives, has just applied for planning permission for an electrical switchroom at Greenholme Mills – the final approval it needs before pushing ahead at Burley.

Development manager Jamie Needle says local reaction so far has been very positive.

He said: “At Burley Neighbourhood Forum last week and in previous meetings there has been a lot of support shown and people seem very interested once we’ve explained what we’re doing.

“We already have permission for the Burley scheme itself but the application in now is for the switchroom which will house equipment to connect it to the local electricity distribution network, and should look like a little, stone-clad shed.

“Apart from the switchroom the works won’t be actually at the mill but on the existing old channels between the mill and the weir.

“Parts of those are falling down so the stone will be rebuilt but it will end up looking pretty similar to what is there now.

“The peak output at Burley, which is a joint venture with TradeLink Solutions, will be about 300 kWh but it will fluctuate according to the river levels.

“At Pool, where there has been less work required since the infrastructure is already there, it will be less – about 100 kWh – because the turbines are so old.

“With these projects it’s important to look after the river because if you take too much of the water you don’t leave enough for the fish and other creatures, which obviously would be unacceptable.

“So we wouldn’t run at all in dry weather like we’re having just now.

“And we also have a fish ‘bypass’ on the turbine at Burley, where part of the land is actually owned by the West Riding Anglers Association, who obviously have no concerns because they leased it to us.

“In Burley we hope to be operating by this time next year; while at Pool we should certainly be ready this year, and hopefully within the next few months.”

Sure chairman Andy Walker, who would like to see a similar hydro-electric scheme incorporated into any redevelopment of the Garnett’s Mill riverside site, in Otley, said: “There’s certainly scope for more of these along the Wharfe and the flow of rivers is one of the most energy efficient energy sources we have.

“And the great thing about water is that you can reuse its flow again and again.

“Hydro-electricity is so much better for the environment than coal or nuclear energy, so I welcome these schemes. “But I remain convinced that, while renewable energy creation is an important part of the mix, it is energy efficiency, and especially making our homes more energy efficient, that is far and away the most important thing we should be tackling as a country.”