Celebrating ten years of Torrs Hydro in New Mills

Visitors to a Torrs Hydro Open Day. Photo: Steve Essex.
Visitors to a Torrs Hydro Open Day. Photo: Steve Essex.

Torrs Hydro is set to celebrate 10 years of community-owned renewable energy generation in New Mills this weekend.

The scheme’s annual general meeting and presentation on Saturday will be followed by an open day.

This year’s presentation will focus on the growth of interest in community shares as a means of raising capital for community projects.

Guest speaker, Alice Wharton, community shares unit programme manager at Cooperatives UK, will consider the development and growth of community shares over the last 10 years and what the future might hold for the sector.

A spokesperson for Torrs Hydro said: “Ten years ago, the idea of investing in community shares to provide the capital funding for a community project was relatively unheard of, yet that is exactly what Torrs Hydro did, and attracted national and regional as well as local media coverage in the process.

“That in the space of little more than two months 230 individuals, businesses and community groups made investments of between £250 and £7,000 each, amounting to a total investment of over £125,000 was considered remarkable.

“In those days no more than four to six organisations per year were offering community shares to raise capital for their projects.”

Since 2008, the sector has grown dramatically, with almost 120,000 people investing over £100m to support 350 community businesses.

As well as renewable energy projects, these businesses have included community-owned shops and pubs, food and drink producers, farms, housing schemes, transport, tourism and leisure projects. Hayfield Sustainable Transport Ltd, The Anglers Rest pub at Bamford and Stockport Hydro are three local examples.

Torrs Hydro in New Mills is a pilot scheme in the field of community-owned hydro-electric schemes, run by a dedicated team of volunteers.

Director Richard Body said: “Our key successes have included the numerous case studies, conference presentations, visits, open days and one-to-one discussions which have encouraged others to use community shares to raise capital for their community projects.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about community shares, community-owned businesses or renewable energy schemes is welcome to attend the annual general meeting, presentation and open day on April 28.

The AGM and presentation will take place at the Revival Church, on High Street, New Mills, from 10.30am to 12.30pm, and the open day from 1pm to 3pm on site in the Torrs Riverside Park.