AN iconic piece of waterways history dating back 140 years could become a pioneer of green energy, with plans to install a hydro power scheme submitted to the council.

The Anderton Boat Lift was built in 1875 to transport boats between the River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal, and following a restoration project at the turn of the millennium it is one of only two operational boat lifts in the UK.

Run by the Canal and River Trust and nicknamed the Cathedral of the Canals, the boat lift – and visitor centre – could now benefit from the renewable energy source it is built to serve.

The application, by H2O Power Ltd, for a ‘22kW micro hydro scheme’ has been lodged with Cheshire West and Chester Council.

A planning statement said; “The hydro scheme will capitalise on an unused overflow of the Trent and Mersey Canal that drains water into the River Weaver.

“The energy generated will be consumed by the Anderton Boat Lift. This will not only save the boat lift on operational costs, it will also provide a tourist attraction by allowing the boat life to be powered by water.

“Any surplus energy will be exported to the grid, though which the scheme will be providing renewable energy to nearby dwellings.

“As energy flows to the nearest point of consumption, local residents will be consuming hydro-electricity when it is being generated.”

Hidden piping and components will run adjacent to the boat lift, with a turbine housed in a small building.

The scheme could offset 55 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, by generating 120MWh of renewable energy – equivalent to powering 30 homes.