Eco-friendly business park brings back historic hydro power

An eco-friendly business park in Cumbria has harnessed the power of water to heat its industrial units in a six-figure project.


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Read time: 5 mins      Added: 12/02/2021

HRJ Properties owns and manages the Gatebeck Business Park near Kendal, a historic former gunpowder works that is now home to 11 businesses, employing around 40 people.

The works, which ceased operating in the 1930s, were powered by water from a reservoir dating to 1897 at Falls Beck, 2km to the east of the site, but the dam had since become unstable.

HRJ Properties owner Howard Robinson has now invested to bring the hydroelectric power system back to life, building a new dam and installing a pipeline, known as a penstock, to link the reservoir with the business park.

The Hydro Scheme took some five years to complete, partly because of planning complexities and the fact that the penstock linking the dam and business park crosses 10 different landowners’ properties. Actual construction of the system took two years.

During that process, Howard joined forces with two of those landowners, Raymond and Stephen Robinson, to form RX3 Hydro Gatebeck, which owns and operates the Hydro Scheme.

HRJ Properties has since recently installed two renewable heat pumps, powered by a hydro turbine, which provide heat to all tenants at Gatebeck Business Park and some neighbouring businesses. 

Clean Growth Finance Initiative

The £350,000 renewable heat project was funded by our Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which provides discounted lending to help businesses invest in reducing their environmental impact, and also benefits from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI).

Local renewable heat technology company, Bardon Biomass, also advised on the project.

Howard Robinson, HRJ Properties owner said: “This project has been a labour of love which was taken enormous efforts and huge support from all involved.

“Because the heat we generate benefits from a government subsidy, we are able to share it directly with our industrial units. Meaning our tenants can access clean heat and energy, while benefiting from lower costs and reduced environmental impact.

“In addition, any excess green energy we generate from the Hydro Scheme, can be sold back to the National Grid, which has created an additional revenue stream for the business.”

Di Davies, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “This is a fantastic example of an innovative eco-friendly business that is feeding the growing demand for renewable energy and heat.

“The Lloyds Bank Clean Growth Finance Initiative is helping businesses like HRJ Properties to seize the opportunities presented by the green economy, helping business prosper while creating a range of environmental benefits and jobs for local people.

Di Davies, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank

“Howard was able to present a solid business case for the investment and we were happy to support this scheme, which brings the Falls Beck reservoir back to life after so many years.” 

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