Controversial plans for a £1.5m hydroelectric power plant at Goring weir capable of generating enough power for 300 homes annually were approved by councillors last night.
Goring and Streatley Community Energy Ltd wants to demolish part of the weir at Goring Lock in order to replace it with three 12ft-wide Archimedes screws off the western bank of Goring Lock island.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee members were being recommended by their officers to approve the scheme.
But the scheme has come under criticism from residents and local councils with Goring Parish Council, Streatley Parish Council and the Angling Trust all speaking out against it.
Hilke Platt, of Thames Road, Goring, said: “This development would be an eyesore in this delightful countryside which is enjoyed by so many, not only locals but from far afield.
“Please do not allow this hideous development to proceed, but preserve this lovely area for relaxation and tranquillity for many years ahead.”
The plant would operate as a community venture selling its energy to the National Grid.
Colin Ratcliff, Goring parish clerk, said: “Councillors have previously stated that they were concerned about the potential flooding risks associated with the proposed scheme, especially as Goring and Streatley have suffered a number of serious flooding events in recent years.”
Goring was hit by severe flooding in early 2014.
SODC had previously objected to the plans last November, saying it would spoil the view from Goring and Streatley Bridge, which is next to the lock.
In response, the company made minor alterations to the scheme including relocating a generator room further east.
Sallie Ingram, of Manor Road, Goring, voiced her thoughts against the application, stating: “My feelings are that this would destroy the iconic view of the present weir to which people from all over the world come to see and admire. The risk of further flooding on both sides of the river can’t be ruled out and the benefit to the village seems ridiculously small when weighed against the supposed gains.”
SODC officer Katherine Quint said in her report: “The proposed development is considered to be acceptable by virtue of the scale, layout and design of the development and is not considered to be harmful to the special landscape character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”