ELECTRICITY is being generated from a picturesque stream after the switch-on of a pioneering project.

The River Bain Hydro scheme began operating yesterday when the power plant in Bainbridge, near Hawes, North Yorkshire, was commissioned.

Supporters of the project gathered to celebrate the culmination of 18 months of work. River Bain Hydro Ltd director and local resident Yvonne Peacock described it as an extremely special day.

She said: “It just shows what can be achieved with hard work and determination.

“We are a very small village in the heart of the Dales, but we had the vision and commitment to get on and make this hydro scheme work.

“It is a credit to everyone who has been involved.”

The hydro plant uses an Archimedes’ screw to power a generator.

The system has a capacity of 45kW – enough to supply electricity to about 40 homes.

It saves about 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – 3,000 tonnes over an expected operating span of 40 years.

The idea for the community- owned hydro scheme was created when members of the Raydale Project met Steve Welsh, of social enterprise group H2ope, which has helped set up the UK’s first community-owned hydro schemes.

The Raydale Project was launched by local residents to carry out projects to help the environment in Raydale cope with climate change.

Mr Welsh said: “They were hopeful that they had the right natural environment to set up their own hydro. Here we are, about 18 months later, and the hydro is up and running, generating electricity. It is amazing to think that a small village like Bainbridge is leading the way in renewable energy generation and it is a great example to us all.”

Work started on site in October last year.

The scheme was financed by more than 200 shareholders with grants from CO2 Sense – a non-profit group that works with renewable energy projects – the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and a loan from The Charity Bank.