The tender documents were to go out in late August 2015. Six contractors were invited for interview and four were chosen. We were into the summer holiday season, which caused delays, and the documents finally went in September, with the tenders due at the end of October. The timetable was getting squeezed. We had hoped that construction proper could start before Christmas, to give time for some protection of the works before the flooding season, but now it was unlikely to start until after the Christmas holidays. That would leave 8 months to generate electricity, which was enough, but getting tight.


While waiting for the tenders, there was plenty of work still to do, especially on the planning conditions. However when the engineering drawings went to planning, they informed us that the generator house was bigger than in the original planning application, therefore a fresh application would be needed. So that was rushed in. Then we learned that if the number on the planning permission changed, we would lose the preliminary accreditation on the feed in tariff. More running round, and we found a company that had been through all this, and solved it by a section 73 amendment. This is rather unconventional, so the planners could have made life difficult, but they knew that the Council wanted the project to succeed and were helpful.


Also the contractors had started to drop out. One, who was also bidding for Sandford Hydro, withdrew from both. Another disagreed with the consultants about how much of the design work they should be expected to do. The third would have needed a partner to handle a critical part of the work, and decided that the risk of not finishing in time was too high.


It felt more and more that the project was slipping away. The tight timetable meant that we had to keep spending money on matters such as the lease, and a further wildlife survey, to ensure that the contractors would be able to start in time. But we believed the members would not thank us for giving up before we received the remaining tender. Then the final tender came: £3 million.



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