Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has announced that former mills and water turbines which are brought back to life in the UK will now be eligible for financial support under the UK Government’s feed-in tariff scheme.

During a visit to the Torrs Hydro scheme in New Mills, Peak District, Barker announced that old waterwheels and turbines will receive a lifeline as Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) will now support “remanufactured as new” hydro equipment.

To help drive forward the ambitious new plan, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is also launching the new hydropower help guide, prepared by the Environment Agency, which offers advice to groups looking to use the power of local streams, weirs or rivers to cut emissions and generate new income for their areas.

“I’m calling on communities across the UK to harness the power of their rivers and streams to generate electricity and money. The community of New Mills in the Peak District are already doing this,” said Barker. “When it comes to the UK’s performance on renewables there’s much more to do and hydropower is currently a missed opportunity. There is more to renewable energy than just large wind turbines. We need to unlock the clean energy of our past as well as the future.

“To do that we need to make it easy and attractive for local people to revive our traditional waterways and help produce more local clean energy,” he added. “This hydro help guide will give clear information on how to get new schemes up and running. I also want to see old mills and turbines brought back to life, some of which were operating in the 1940s and 1950s before the National Grid existed. “

Currently hydropower in the UK is generating the equivalent of 1.4% of electricity demand with a potential to contribute up to a further 1%– enough to power the equivalent of one million homes. In the last two years alone the EA have seen a 12-fold increase in applications for hydropower permits.

Torrs Hydro is a community share scheme supported by local action group, H2OPE and the Co-op Community Fund. The community group of 230 members invested over £125,000 and then raised the remainder of the scheme’s full cost (£330,000) from community bank loans and grants. The scheme earns an income from the energy exported to the local Co-op supermarket.

Similar schemes put in place today could calculate how much they would earn from FITs, with any exported energy delivering an additional income from FITs.