iGreens love water power. It drove much of the agricultural and industrial revolutions on which our present prosperity was built.
But it is neither inexhaustible nor environmentally harmless. Dams flood the valleys above them, destroying free-flowing water, flooding rapids and waterfalls and in the larger cases whole villages and towns. Reservoirs eventually silt up, cease functioning as a store of power and have to be dredged or the dam removed.
Decisions to build dams require the balancing of many competing interests. This needs clear property rights. The owner of the mill, who wants to build a dam, negotiates with the owners of the river, fishing and boating rights, and with the owners of the surrounding land and buildings. If he can afford to, he pays them all compensation or buys their interests entirely. If not, the dam does not get built. Both sides need lawyers but there's no need for politicians to get involved.
Barton Mill on the Trent
Barton Watermill, Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire. A mill on this site dates back to the Domesday book. The present mill stopped working in 1929. Now a gift shop in a shopping centre.
Dyfi Furnace watermill, on A487 Aberystwyth to Machynlleth. Charcoal fired blast furnace built in 1755 made pig iron until about 1800. The water wheel powered the bellows and later a sawmill.
Letheringsett watermill Norfolk. Built in 1802 on an ancient mill site on the river Glaven. In the 1960's my father and I paddled in two collapsible canvas canoes down the Glaven here. It was a testing portage through nettles and brambles past the decaying mill. Restored in 1982. Click here for opening times.
Tuddenham watermill in Suffolk was built in 1775. Steam power was added in 1826. A mill was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086. It worked until 1954. Now a restaurant, the water wheel still turns as a feature. A windmill also existed in Tuddenham, but it became derelict in the late 19th century and all traces have now disappeared.
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