Find Out about Net Zero at the Green Expo

Brought to you by CHASE CIC.


CHASE – Cheshire Heritage and Sustainability Enterprises Community Interest Company – is the managing company for the Hydro Hub scheme. It was founded in early 2021 to act as the facilitating vehicle to identify heritage locations in Cheshire that can be re-purposed or reanimated in a way that preserves the integrity of their original design & construction whilst additionally re-purposing them to provide new viable futures. The CIC is “not for profit” with any surpluses being ploughed back into the operation to support its sustainability. No fees or dividends will be taken by the directors or shareholders.

Company number: 13231373


Cheshire Historic Buildings Preservation Trust Ltd. (CHBPT) is a private company, limited by guarantee and registered as a charity. It was formed in 1981 with the active support and encouragement of the Chester Civic Trust. It rescues historic buildings and structures in Cheshire and in doing so it may encourage moving them from one ownership onto another and this is the case with the Chester Hydro.

The first group to express an interest in the hydro building has now formed a CIC, CHASE, that will receive and run the Chester Hydro Hub in partnership with other organisations.

Chester Hydro Hub

Following the demise of the University of Chester’s hydro electricity generation scheme, there remained a group of interested Cestrians who had been stakeholders or at best interested parties. Of prime concern for this group was to find a way to reuse the Hydro Electric Station as a vehicle for tackling the climate emergency, through demonstration and education and to generate some ‘free’ electricity. The Hydro and the Track 1 hydrogen scheme in Cheshire, was also focusing the minds of this group. A Trust member was invited to attend a rare opportunity to view the inside of the building and their motivation was in finding a new use for a lost cause Listed building. This led to an offer from Donald Insall Associates to explore a way forward with some pro-bono ideas and layouts. In the meantime, CHBPT approached AHF for grant funding for this study and CW&C climate emergency fund for match funding and wider environmental considerations.

The CHASE proposition is to establish a Hydro Hub; a focal point for residents, schools and visitors to learn about what a low carbon world will look like and how all aspects of our lives will change as new technologies remove emissions from our industry, commerce, agriculture, homes, transport and food. CHASE’s aim for the complex is to use it for:

  • Explaining Chester’s green power generation history at this site
  • Educating people about water management Educating people about fish management
  • Educating people about the SSSI flora and fauna management
  • Educating people about how clean energy destroyed the port of Chester
  • Demonstrating the future of clean, renewable energy – water, wind, solar, hydrogen.

We have refined this set of aims into a slightly more focused set of objectives, as follows:

  • To save the redundant building and tell the story of the country’s first hydro-electric generating plant of its type, and 850 years of hydro power in Chester
  • To promote the importance of decarbonised energy, using the building space and location as an engaging learning facility
  • To provide advocacy for future high skilled career paths and opportunities in the green economy. 2.4 Activities

Genius loci is important for the continuity of power generation, and the significance of its history due to its location on the River Dee by the medieval weir and Old Dee bridge.

The CHASE plans are in the context recent announcement of £72m of funding from the UK Government and local industries to develop detailed designs and consenting for HyNet North West, a Hydrogen based zero carbon industrial cluster across the region, intended to deliver on commitments around Net Zero Climate Change 2050. This is an example of technological developments and new skills development and career opportunities that will be created arising from HyNet. CHASE seeks to capitalise on these opportunities at large in bringing its plans to fruition. In addition to developing Chester Hydro, CHASE is planning an annual Green Expo event which will be a trade show and sustainability fair on the banks of the Dee next to the Hub. This will be an opportunity for local businesses and charities to showcase their sustainability plans, products and services. The general public will have opportunities to buy products while learning about technologies and career opportunities.

Comprehensive work has been carried out by the University of Chester, in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council, to set out how the Hydro could be transformed into a power plant to provide electric power for the University campus. Some of the studies and documentation for this proposal eventually proved to be a step too far for its environmental impact but it gathered wide support and brought key issues to light.

The key point for this study is that the University planned to install three Archimedes Screw turbines on the downstream side of the building, that would have attracted the Dee’s Atlantic Salmon and ended their journey to the upstream spawning grounds.

That this worthy proposal failed through a clash with equally worthy environmental concerns, has given CHBPT / CHASE a reality check and that a commercial generation of electricity is possibly beyond the art of the possible for the Chester Hydro project. However, the plan is to install less vigorous and slower moving turbines wheels within the original chambers below the Turbine Hall and to leave the Dee’s Atlantic Salmon to continue their way upstream via the faster flowing weir and fish ladder.
The University Study also included a dilapidations cost assessment and detailed condition survey beyond the scope of this study and CHBPT is grateful to the original study team for its cooperation in allowing it to inform this report.

The Trust’s team has been very active in gathering a partnership group including;

  • Cheshire West & Chester Council
  • University of Chester
  • HyNet

In addition to several enthusiastic Chester residents.

One direct initiative was an online questionnaire to explore these objectives, issued in June 2021, 293 responses were received. 

As the Hydro Electric Station is currently crowded with redundant machinery and temporary shoring it is only accessible by arrangement with United Utilities and when wearing protective clothing.

A Matterport survey was commissioned allowing a full virtual walk around inside the building (but not the underwater chambers).

The Team

Dr David Niall Macfadyen (Chair)

Mr Michael Hogg

Mike worked in Energy for 42 years, with Shell and Danish company Orsted (marketing, sales and distribution of renewable and carbon-based products). This included strategic planning to operational management – including Chair, MD and directorship posts.
Mike now has a portfolio of consultancy and voluntary work across health, education, energy and local Chester-based initiatives, including director and stakeholder advisory panel roles.
Mike is also a Freeman of the City of London – where he is a Trustee of the Worshipful Company of Fuellers’ Charitable Trust Fund (FCTF). Established in 1983, the FCTF’s primary aims are for the relief of poverty, advancement of education, research and assistance through awards, prizes and donations in areas connected to energy. He is particularly passionate about ensuring the educational and energy sectors work together to build solid foundations for the future of both and the UK.

Mr John Egan

Following 25 years’ experience in the chemical industry, John joined Progressive Energy in 2019 as North West Regional Lead based in Cheshire. A Chartered Chemical Engineer, until joining Progressive Energy John was Operations Director for the Specialty Carbons business of Cabot Corporation, a US blue chip, leading manufacturing operations including in the US, China and the Netherlands. Prior to that he was Global Energy Technical Director for Cabot. John has led on various components of the HyNet project across hydrogen and CCUS. John is Strategic Advisor and a Board Director of the Vertex Hydrogen joint venture. He is currently Project Director for various industrial decarbonisation opportunities.

Mr Ian Hesketh 

Mr Stephen Miller


The site is perfect for explaining the history of Chester’s power and educating people about water management, fish management and SSSI flora and fauna management.

A New Lease of Life

North West England and North Wales are soon set to benefit from a state-of-the-art centre to celebrate the history of decarbonised energy in Cheshire and the North West and promote the future of clean energy. The old Hydro-Electric power station on the River Dee in Chester has been identified as the ideal site.

Chester University & CWaC

A plan to create a 500kw hydro-electric station was developed by Cheshire West & Chester Council and the University of Chester between 2005-2015, but Government funding was withdrawn for this type of project.