AN ambitious community project is finally set to start construction after a four-year struggle.

The Whalley Community Hydro project has now officially secured enough money to start building work on the River Calder to provide energy for the surrounding area.

The power house, which will use the movement of the river’s water to create electricity, will then be fed into the National Grid and generate money for other local renewable energy projects.

A £400,000 loan from Charity Bank has now given the project the green light with bosses hoping to start work before the summer.

The project has also raised a similar amount from a share sale which was opened last November.

An Archimedean screw turbine, capable of generating up to 345,000kWh of renewable energy each year, is set to be installed first.

Graham Sowter, a founder member of Whalley Community Hydro, said: “We are grateful to Charity Bank for our loan, without which the project could not have started.

“We can now start work, which will lead to the hydro generating a significant amount of energy for the community in a scheme owned by the community.”

Simon Thorrington, Charity Bank’s regional director responsible for renewable energy, said: “Charity Bank has expertise and a good track record in lending to renewable energy schemes.

“We are more than satisfied that the Whalley Community Hydro scheme will not only generate significant amounts of clean energy but will be the catalyst for other sustainable projects in the area.

“The positive social impact of the scheme will be significant.

“This is one of the main criteria we look for in deciding whether to offer a loan or not.”

Other renewable energy projects funded by Charity Bank include Settle Hydro in North Yorkshire, a community-led scheme that provides electricity for 50 homes.