Request information surrounding the award of a ERDF hydropower development grant to SEPEL and the RBWM

Mike Post made this Freedom of Information request to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Communities and Local Government,

A report, “Developing Weirpower”, was presented to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Cabinet on 24 October 2012. Members were updated on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) hydropower grant. The report may be found at:

http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/minsys3.nsf/2afdb...

The minutes of the RBWM Sustainability Panel on 13 November 2012 may be found at http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/minsys3.nsf/AMByM...

These minutes confirm that the RBWM Cabinet on the 24 October 2012 had given delegated authority to accept a £940,700 ERDF grant to support development of hydropower, which had been match funded by SouthEast Power Engineering Ltd (SEPEL) and the Environment Agency.

The report to the RBWM Cabinet on 24 October had indicated that of the £940,700 ERDF grant, £145,500 was to go to the Environment Agency and SEPEL for studies e.g. fish monitoring studies, £145,000 was to go to SEPEL for knowledge transfer of hydropower, £75,000 was to go to SEPEL and others for supply chain development and £93,980 was to go to SEPEL for other capital costs of hydropower sites. In return, SEPEL was to provide £738,450 “match funding” of the part capital costs of hydropower sites.

On 26 January 2013, SEPEL’s Annual Returns stated that it had £304 cash, current liabilities of £104,511 and a book value of minus £88,798.(Source DUEDIL)

In October 2012, writing an article, “On Her Majesty’s Service” in the magazine, “International Water Power & Dam Construction” http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/0ba7..., David Dechambeau, Chief Executive of SEPEL, wrote, “The turbines at Windsor Castle are unique in several ways and we have been awarded a grant from the European Union Redevelopment Fund (sic) (ERDF) to study the developments and improvements we have made to the technology.”

SEPEL took over the hydropower development at Romney Weir, Windsor, in early 2009. This followed the withdrawal of npower which had written to the RBWM that there were still significant challenges in making Romney Weir hydropower a viable asset. In 2009 SEPEL wrote on its website, “Construction [of the Romney Weir hydropower plant] will take place in 2009 and the system will be commissioned and become operational in late 2009.” http://sepengineering.com/index.php?opti...

The Romney Weir plant was still not generating commercial electricity in February 2013, over three years later than predicted by SEPEL.
Since the Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for the administration of ERDF grants in the UK, can you please inform me about the due diligence that it has carried out to confirm:
1. that SEPEL is capable of match funding £738,450.
2. that SEPEL and its officers have the qualifications, experience and proven track record to justify payment of £145,000 for hydropower knowledge transfer, £145,500 (shared with the EA) for studies and £75,000 for hydropower supply chain development.
3. that it is appropriate to award £93,980 of public funds to SEPEL for other capital costs.
4. that the ERDF grant that Mr Dechambeau says in his magazine article has been awarded “to study the developments and improvements that we [SEPEL] have made to the technology” is the same ERDF grant that has been awarded to the RBWM? If so, is it appropriate to award public money to SEPEL to study developments and improvements to the technology that it has already made?

Yours faithfully,

Mike Post

Dear Department for Communities and Local Government,

I should like to clarify my FOI request of earlier today. Will you please also confirm that the ERDF grant that Mr Dechambeau says in his magazine article has been awarded “to study the developments and improvements that we [SEPEL] have made to the technology” is the
same ERDF grant that has been awarded to the RBWM? If so, is it appropriate to award public money to SEPEL to study developments and improvements to the technology that it has already made?

Yours faithfully,

Mike Post

Ben Meadows, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Post

In response to your recent FOI request, please see attached.

Kind regards

Ben

Ben Meadows
ERDF Programmes Team
Local Economies, Regeneration and European Programmes Division
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DF
Tel: 0303 44 48005

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Ben Meadows, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Post

In response to your recent Freedom of Information request, please see the
attached letter.

Kind regards

Ben

Ben Meadows
ERDF Programmes Team
Local Economies, Regeneration and European Programmes Division
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DF
Tel: 0303 44 48005

<<130430_FOI_Post.doc>>

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Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored and/or
recorded for legal purposes.