After about 6 months I felt it was time to take the plunge. I knew I could not do something like this on my own, so I asked my list if they were willing to join me, and 6 others decided to give it a try.
We knew that the first thing we needed was a legal entity. We wanted it to be something for the town rather than for ourselves, and after looking at the options decided to form a Community Interest Company. As 7 directors, we were beginners, and in 2010 there was not much community hydro activity to learn from. But 7 heads are much better than one and between us we were usually worked out what to do. (Although in 2013 we realised that a CIC was not suitable for our share offer, so we changed to an Industrial and Provident Society, Benefit of the Community - an IPS Bencom.)
The next thing was to put some flesh on the bones – how it could be done, where it would go, what it would look like. Could it be built into the weir, as was planned for Goring? Under no circumstances, said the EA, they needed the whole weir for flood control. That was a blow, but after reflection, how about round the side of the weir? Yes, that should be OK, who owns the land? The District Council. So we would need to open a conversation with them, but so far so good.
Would it be a sound investment? Estimates of the capital cost were very vague. Estimates of the income were easier and looked promising. There was enough information to produce a basic handout and sketches. So we started taking part in local events, anything we could, talking to people, building up a mailing list, and generally making ourselves known. Students in a mini-internship scheme did some market research and found that the public attitude was very positive.
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