Members of Esk Valley Community Energy Group (EVCEG) set up ‘Esk Energy (Yorkshire) Limited’, an Industrial and Provident Society (for the benefit of the community) in 2008, to fund the installation of a 50 kw Hydro Electric Generator on the south side of the River Esk at Ruswarp, near Whitby.

EVCEG were a voluntary group originally set up in the Esk Valley in Danby Parish with the help of the Parish Council and the North York Moors National Park Authority with the mission to reduce carbon emissions and to “Think global and act local”.

They held a number of well attended public talks about energy reduction and choosing renewable energy equipment. Colin Mather, the chair of the group, said “There is a lot of information available but it can be very confusing. Our aim has always been to provide unbiased information to allow people to make informed choices of what is best for them.”

Insulating our homes is the first thing to do. If we can reduce the losses from our homes we will not need so much energy. It is also the cheapest and easiest thing and most effective thing that we can all do. Only after doing this should we think about renewable energy installations.

Over the years, members of EVCEG gave advice to hundreds of people about how to reduce their carbon emissions. Inevitably they wanted to see if renewable energy could be produced in their locality. They researched a variety of renewable energy options and the obvious choices are wind, the residents think it is very windy in Danby parish; sunshine, not a choice a few years ago but recent cash incentives through the Feed in Tariff have made this more attractive; and lastly hydro power from the River Esk.

A hydro survey of the River Esk catchment was carried out in 2007 and after long discussions working with the Environment Agency, the group chose Ruswarp weir as the preferred option to install a hydro electric turbine.

The Directors and other Foundation Shareholders of Esk Energy (Yorkshire) Limited worked for four years with the Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park and the River Esk Action Committee to develop the Whitby Esk Energy scheme to generate green electricity and improve the ability of salmon, sea trout, eels and lamprey to travel up-stream over the weir.