PLANS to build a hydro electric scheme in Greenock are powering ahead.

The Hole Burn at Greenock Cut has been identified by the council and Scottish Water to increase the amount of renewable energy being produced in Inverclyde.

The idea is being pursued by the council in partnership with Scottish Water Horizons (SWH), which describes itself as ‘a commercially sustainable, stand-alone business using innovative ideas, knowledge and assets to encourage growth and renewable technologies’.

The partnership started in November 2013 to investigate the feasibility of developing small hydro schemes on land within their control.

A new report written by head of legal and property services, Gerry Malone, says: “The council and SWH identified the opportunity of developing a renewables energy scheme at the Hole Burn.

“Given their sector expertise, SWH are taking a lead role in the progress of the detailed design phase, necessary consent applications and the procurement process in relation to the construction phase.”

Design consultants Mott MacDonald have prepared a detailed document which will be submitted to SWH, and considered by them and the council.

SWH are also drawing up consent applications to go to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the council.

Mr Malone said: “A construction tender package is currently being prepared by SWH, with an anticipated date for tender returns in April/May of this year.

“From this timeline, it is anticipated that the detailed design will have been completed and tenders returned for the build phase by April/May.

“Both the council and SWH will then be in a position to take a fully costed decision.”

This latest phase of the project will cost the council £50,000.

Mr Malone added: “The project is proceeding on a partnership basis with SWH. The asset contributions, investment and revenue sharing is on the basis of equal share of risks and benefits. The construction proposals will be dealt with through Scottish Water’s procurement procedures.

“This project involves the council in the innovative use of its land and water assets for renewables energy generation.”