'We're adapting our house so that the hydro turbine will provide all of our heating and electricity and we'll export the rest.' This will include a water source heat pump to provide all heating for the home and enough electric to provide power for two electric cars and an electric quad bike. The original mill has had a variety of uses over the centuries, including wool, corn and steel, and until 1950 was used to pump water to Lullington. 'The pump was so loud, that people said they could hear it a mile away,' says Kevin.
The couple are planning to install a 60-100kw horizontal Kaplan turbine. The turbine will be housed in the existing mill building so 'you'll hardly know it's there.' The original mill wheel has been painstakingly removed from the mill and is on display in Kevin's mini-museum alongside other salvaged original mill parts.
As we talk, a house martin swoops out from its nest above the front door, does a lap of the lounge and flies out again through the window. 'We will have to have a fish pass but I don't think hydro schemes of this sort do affect fish. Another mill owner, Anthony Battersby has only found one dead fish in 9 years of his turbine operating. I've also spoken to river experts who have said that eels don't like to go down weirs, the adults get out of the water and go around them!' Kevin has spent the morning waist deep in the leat's water removing Himalayan Balsam in preparation for the winter's floods.
'It's a long process. We started a year ago and I think we'll probably need another year and a half until the scheme is up and fully functioning – it's all dependent on licensing.' explains Kevin.