CONSTRUCTION on a community hydro project could begin in April after four years of planning.

The Whalley Community Hydro project has raised £400,000 so far but has to reach £750,000 before work can start.

News is expected soon on whether a bank loan has been accepted to make up the difference.

The announcement came as the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, visited the project on Thursday.

Mrs Bennett, who also visited Hyndburn, said: “Whalley Community Hydro is a really practical example of how a community can generate energy in a very simple way.

“There's been a great take-up from local people, showing just how much enthusiasm there is for community-owned energy.”

Chris Gathercole, a director of the project, said: “Local people have been really supportive of the project and it seems that the news has spread.

“Once the plant is operating it will generate 345MWh of electricity, enough to supply the equivalent of over 100 houses.”

Generation of electricity is expected to begin in August or September with the income from the electricity sold to the national grid being used for more renewable energy projects in the local community.