Rochdale will become home to the first transport interchange in Europe to run partly on hydro-electric power, thanks to an innovative scheme now underway to harness the power of the River Roch.
The hydro-electric power project is part of Ticket to Kyoto, a European initiative to reduce carbon emissions in public transport.
Financed by Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the European Union’s INTERREG IVB programme, the hydro-electric power scheme will make use of the existing weir close to the interchange site.
This scheme forms part of wider plans to redevelop Rochdale town centre, a project that involves GMPTE, Rochdale Council and Rochdale Development Agency.
Energy from the river flow will be converted into electricity using a screw-shaped turbine, producing up to a quarter of the electricity needed to power the proposed interchange.
Ahead of the interchange being built, the surplus electricity will be sold to the National Grid.
A carbon counter will be installed which the public will be able to look at to see how much energy is produced, and how much has been saved.
GMPTE’s plans also include a fish pass, part-funded by the Environment Agency, which will allow fish to negotiate the weir easily and encourage brown trout to spawn in the river.
Councillor Ian Macdonald, Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, said: “By pioneering the use of hydro-electric technology in a local, urban setting, we have an opportunity to make Rochdale’s proposed interchange the first of its kind in Europe – a reduced-carbon public transport interchange that runs partly on power from a hydro-electric source.
“Public transport is already a green travel choice, but our plans prove that we can lead the way in making it even more environmentally sound.”
Councillor Peter Williams, Rochdale Borough Council Cabinet Member for Corporate Management and Economic Regeneration, said: “This is a fantastic, innovative scheme. I am familiar with the energy of moving water from my whitewater kayaking days.
“It is great to see the most being made of the power of the river, and it’s great to see the River Roch playing a part in the future of Rochdale in plans that partly open it up to the public.
“The fact that the interchange and the new customer service centre, library and council offices will be alongside the river will enhance the environment for everyone using these new facilities.”