MANY people are starting to use solar or wind power to make their homes sustainable and energy efficient.

But one county man believes that water is the way forward.

Geoffrey Jordan has set up a hydro-electric scheme at his Trebandy Farm in Marstow, near Ross-on-Wye.

Using a water wheel over Garron Brook, a tributary of the River Wye, the scheme can generate more than 30,000kw hours a year – enough to power six or seven homes.

"The purpose is to harness the power on the farm and generate the farming and housing needs to make it more self-sufficient," said Mr Jordan.

"I have got salmon and trout in the weir, but the wheel is properly sufficient to work.

"There are thousands of water mills in the UK, but very few of them are harnessed for generating electricity.

"This could provide a renewable source of energy to the farm for the next 100 years."

The 70-acre farm rears Highland cattle and Hebrridean sheep, with several of the old farm buildings being converted into holiday lets.

Much of the land is under Natural England's higher level stewardship because it contains a unique feature of a 'false ox-bow lake' that is fed from the brook.

The building of a weir allowed a paddle pump to supply water to the farm and a length of the brook to be stocked with trout.

A feasibility study showed that a breastshot water wheel – made of stainless steel – was the most suitable hydroelectric generating installation.

Greg McCormick, consultant and project manager at Micro Hydroelectric Installations, believes that many other people should go down the same route as Mr Jordan.

"The great thing about hydro is that can produce power for many years, so is a long-term investment," said Mr McCormick.

"It is an incredibly feasible way of producing power.

"It does not harm the environment and can run 24 hours a day.

"Whereas, solar only works in daylight hours and wind turbines work when the wind blows.

"There are 10,000 unused weirs in the country that can use hydro power."

Councillor Jenny Hyde, ward member for Llangarron, said she supports the scheme because it enhances the countryside.

"It is innovative and shows what can do be done with the co-operation of planners," said Cllr Hyde.