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Harlaw Reservoir hydro to bring power

A RESERVOIR is set to spark a new energy supply after a host of investors rushed to back the scheme. The £35,000 project to harness the power of the Harlaw Reservoir will be completed by the end of the year, with electricity being produced from the spring. It has been funded by 240 shareholders – 70 per cent of which come from Balerno, Currie and Juniper Green – who are now in line to pocket dividends.

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Harlow Hydro (HH) will also generate a profit of £54,000 a year for the Balerno Village Trust (BVT), which will spend the cash on community projects such as the renovation of the Ravelrig Walled Garden. Project leaders have insisted there will be an annual windfall for the next two decades – “unless the rain stops falling”. Lynn Molleson, a founding member of the project, believes the scheme will have long-lasting benefits. She said: “Hopefully it will inspire other communities to think: ‘What could we do?’

“This has been completely community-driven. We have been involved in this, we have worked really hard, with people from the village doing a lot of different things. “Renewable energy and low CO2 living is something that I want for my children and their generation. We have to show them that we tried to do something rather than just using up all the oil and gas and then saying: ‘There you go, you sort it out.’”

The scheme will use the water flowing out of the Harlaw Reservoir, and will generate 260,000kWh of green electricity a year – enough to power around 56 homes. First mooted four years ago, it will save 129 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and boasts a four per cent annual return for investors. More shareholders are now being sought to foot a £20,000 bill to cover the rising cost of materials. Organisers are expecting plenty of interest, after queues of local residents eager to sign up formed last year.

HH was set up by members of the Balerno Village Trust, which had been working on plans to recommission the reservoir’s hydro power plant since 2009. Hugo Whitaker, chairman of BVT, said a host of community projects would be funded by the profits. He said: “The trust’s role will involve us receiving income from Harlaw Hydro and applying that income in line with our charitable purposes. We recognised some time ago that we would have to develop new capabilities as a local body in order to be able to respond to that, and we have already taken the first steps in that process.”

Work is set to get under way next week to make the reservoir fit for its new purpose as an energy supplier. The first of the diggers will arrive on Monday to prepare the ground for a turbine house replacing a former installation that dates back to the early 20th century.


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