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Settle Hydro Sparks Social Enterprise Award
Settle Hydro at Settle Weir near Bridge End Mill
A revolutionary community hydro-electric scheme has been chosen by the Key Fund in its 'Renewable Energy' category for their Top 10 awards.

Settle Hydro was established as an 'Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community' with the specific purpose of owning the Settle Weir Hydro Electric Scheme. The Society generates revenue by selling 'green' hydro-electricity. Any surplus revenue is used by the Society to benefit the local community through its twin aims of regenerating the local economy and promoting the environmental sustainability of Settle District.

The top three of the nominated ten will win 15k of awards from the Key Fund, to be announced at a ceremony at the Magna Science Museum on 25 October, which celebrates social enterprises across different sectors including education, childcare and health.

Directors of Settle Hydro, Steve Amphlett and Ann Harding
Settle Hydro was the brainchild of Ann Harding, (Chair of StART and experienced company director) Steve Amphlett (Local Businessman and Chairman of Vibrant Settle Community Partnership) and Chris l'Anson (Chairman and MD of Masham-based animal feeds manufacturer I'Anson Brothers Ltd).

Matt Smith, Fund Manager at the Key Fund, said: "Installing the 50kW Archimedean screw at Settle Weir near Bridge End Mill was a mammoth undertaking - not just as a project, but financially. The benefits however have literally been electrifying. The founders recognised they lived in a fragile rural economy and were looking for something to give it a unique selling point, to get people to visit Settle, to stay longer and spend more money in its shops and businesses."

Settle Hydro has advised over 400 communities worldwide on how to take responsibility for their future and has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Despite the challenges of the 410,000 project, the return on investment - socially, economically and environmentally - is high. The scheme will generate approximately 165,000 kWh (units) of electricity per year - enough for around 50 average houses - saving 80 tonnes of carbon per year or 3,200 tonnes of carbon over an expected lifetime of 40 years.

The 50kW Archimedean screw at Settle Weir
Settle Hydro features in the National Curriculum A-Level Geography and works with DECC and the Cabinet Office on major research.

The Key Fund, a social enterprise itself, is now Britain's largest regional Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) specialising in the social economy market. It's a market leader in innovation recognising the nature and environment within which social businesses operate - namely disadvantage and market failure.

In ten years the Key Fund has supported 2,000 organisations, aiding 6,500 training opportunities, 175 new business start-ups, and the creation or safeguarding of 1,822 jobs.

The awards mark the Key Fund's tenth anniversary since its first investment.

Ann Harding, Chair of Settle Hydro, said: "Without the Key Fund investment we wouldn't have found ourselves addressing the Westminster Environmental Audit Committee or speaking at the launch of Energy Share at the Scottish Parliament.

"It's been the most complex and difficult thing - however we are secure and confident in the knowledge that we have made the way easier for others. But we couldn't have done it without our financial partners."

Settle Hydro Sparks Social Enterprise Award, 22nd October 2012, 9:11 AM