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British Waterways to become renewable giant

British Waterways has announced plans to generate enough renewable energy to power Blackburn at canal and riverside locations across the UK.

British Waterways claims it is the first public corporation to explore such opportunities for wind turbines and small-scale hydro power schemes.

The proposals consider 50 new wind turbines built across the UK in the next five to eight years, to generate 100MW of electricity. This would save more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2, and generate enough power for 45,000 homes - the equivalent of a town the size of Blackburn.

Income generated through the scheme would be ploughed back into Britain's canal system.

British Waterways chief executive Robin Evans said: "This is a real example of a public organisation using its land in innovative ways to generate additional income and work towards a more sustainable future.

"We look after 2,200 miles of canals and rivers throughout the UK and, whilst always protecting their heritage, are proactively looking at how we can use this resource to make a contribution towards the fight against climate change.

"We believe that our waterside land could host around 100MW of renewable energy capacity – some 219,000 MW/h. If we successfully develop this resource it would mean that the nation's canal network would generate more than ten times more electricity than it consumes."

The scheme is developed through Partnerships for Renewables, financed by HSBC's Environmental Infrastructure Fund.

Chief executive of Partnerships for Renewables Stephen Ainger, said: "We believe that this announcement marks the beginning of a trend in the public sector to embrace the potential of renewable energy generation and it is great to see that British Waterways has demonstrated the vision to become a torch bearer for others to follow."

Green gorups have reacted positively, Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Nick Rau said: "It is clear that renewable energy generation development could offer substantial economic and environmental benefits right across the public sector and we hope that other public organisations follow the lead set by British Waterways."

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