Rydal Hall hydro-electric project to be officially opened

A two million pound hydro-electric project at the Diocese of Carlisle’s Rydal Hall conference centre is to be officially opened next month.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev’d James Newcome, will formally open the scheme and also bless the project during a short service.

It was completed and commissioned earlier this summer and replaces an existing hydro-electric plant in Rydal Beck which was more than 90 years old and provided power to the hall and site.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev’d James Newcome, said: “The need for the Church to love and care for God’s creation as part of its worship undergirds our diocesan environmental policy.

“The Rydal Hall hydro-electric scheme is a demonstration of this and I very much look forward to officially opening it next month.”

The electricity generated from the new plant at the Christian retreat centre near Ambleside will provide some on-site power with the surplus fed back into the local network. On average it will generate enough electricity to power 400 homes each year.

The diocese has worked in partnership with Kendal companies, Ellergreen Hydro and Gilbert, Gilkes and Gordon. Ellergreen has led a renaissance in the design and development of small hydro in the Lake District, while Gilkes have been making hydro turbines in Kendal since 1856, including the first hydro system at Rydal.

Ellergreen worked in partnership with Gilbert, Gilkes & Gordon Ltd, manufacturers of hydro turbines in Kendal since 1856 and the suppliers of the first hydro system at Rydal.

Mark Cropper, managing director of Ellergreen, said: “We are delighted that working closely with the diocese, this scheme has been delivered on time and to budget.

“Key to the work on site was the need to take a huge amount of care over construction so any impact on existing woodland was kept to a minimum. We were supervised throughout by an ecologist to ensure this was the case.

“It’s wonderful to see the recently commissioned hydro scheme able to generate electricity in harmony with the environment while also recognizing it represents a major contributor to the National Park's Low Carbon Vision.”

Initial work on site began in February 2014 with some tree felling and removal of invasive rhododendrons in woodland. A new water pipe was then laid to feed the turbine, following the route of the existing pipe. A new turbine has been housed in a specially designed stone building which is in keeping with local buildings and which includes specialist sound-proofing.

The diocese has also partnered with Ellergreen on a second larger hydro-electric scheme at Scandale, the next valley nearer to Ambleside. It is the largest scheme of its kind in Cumbria and will be completed this autumn, generating on average enough electricity to power 600 homes.

Martin Jayne, chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance, said: “We are delighted that the Rydal Hall scheme has been completed and that at all times the work has been undertaken with such sensitivity to the surrounding environment.

“Indeed, a 12 month schedule of works was built into the programme to ensure that there was minimal impact in this regard.

“The power output of this scheme has already meant the Diocese of Carlisle is carbon neutral in its use of electricity across all of its properties. This will be further boosted when the Scandale renewable energy project is completed and generating electricity.”

The official opening ceremony and blessing will take place at Rydal Hall at 2pm on Tuesday 20 October.

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To confirm attendance at the opening ceremony or for further information, please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Officer, on 01228 815401/07469 153658 or via email at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.