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A Socio-cultural appraisal of developing micro-hydro power generation at the Fulling Mill

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Cat ButtonORCiD



Executive summaryBackground The Fulling Mill is one of the few remaining medieval mills on the River Wear. It is owned by Durham Cathedral and leased to Durham University. The mill is uniquely situated in the foreground of one of the best loved and most photographed heritage sites in the UK. It is timely to consider the future of the building and how it may be used to map on to organisation objectives of both the Cathedral and the University. Developing micro-hydro power at this site integrates strategic issues around: future uses of the mill buildings; reducing carbon emissions; adding to the cultural heritage of a prestigious World Heritage Site; and increasing public engagement with environmental issues. Each theme maps onto current legislative targets.Project brief The aim of this project was to conduct a socio-cultural appraisal of generating micro-hydro power at the Fulling Mill on the River Wear. Academic and grey literature was reviewed, relevant stakeholders were interviewed and a wider focus group was undertaken with the local community.Findings At the current time there is a lot of interest and excitement around developing a micro-hydro scheme at the Fulling Mill. Development of such a scheme maps onto the environmental objectives of multiple organisations such as Durham Cathedral, Durham University and the Environment Agency. We suggest that the socio-cultural aspects should counter-balance the financial outlay and difficulties in designing a micro-hydro scheme and generating revenue to ensure long-term sustainability of the Fulling Mill and energy production. A current window of opportunity exists to develop a collaborative project between multiple organisations that may be able to use their expertise and develop joint management and funding for a scheme. This scheme could also lead to outreach in environmental education and tourism opportunities. Key to the success of a scheme is the long-term financial stability of the development, not just the investment to develop the scheme.Ways forward Develop conversations across relevant and interested parties. Aim to develop a collaborative project across interested stakeholders to develop aspirations for the site. Share knowledge and expertise across the group. Explore funding models, including match funding from interested organisations where possible, to develop a scheme.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bracken L, Button C, Bulkeley H, Strang V

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2013

Pages: 18

Print publication date: 01/10/2013

Institution: Department of Geography, Durham University

Place Published: Durham