More than 900 homes will soon be powered by renewable energy after plans to develop a hydropower project were approved.

After a nail-biting five month wait, not-for-profit company Ham Hydro - working closely with Ham United Group (Hug) - has been chosen by the Environment Agency (EA) to develop a hydropower project at Teddington Weir, alongside a major civil contractor.

Once built the project will be the largest run-of-the-river hydro scheme in Europe, generating enough power for more than 900 homes and saving about 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

The electricity generated will be sold into the national grid with all profits going towards further low carbon projects within the communities on both sides of the river.

Ham Hydro project manager James Heather said: “Ham Hydro aims are to promote community cohesion and prosperity.

“We are seeking to create a project local people can be proud of and generate employment.”

Award-winning community group Hug had been investigating the potential for hydropower at the site since 2006.

But the idea gathered pace in 2009 when Ham Hydro was incorporated and people with a range of professional backgrounds were brought together from the communities on both sides of the river.

A bid was made by the organisation to the EA in April last year after it announced it was looking for a developer to create a sustainable hydropower scheme at Teddington Weir.

Backing their bid was Richmond Council leader Nick True who sent a letter of support to the EA.

Coun True said: “We strongly support the principle of community-led provision of such projects.”

Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith and Vince Cable, MP for Twickenham, have also expressed their support for the project.

Mr Goldsmith said: “This is a hugely exciting local project, but it is also important nationally. Small-scale, decentralised clean energy is the future, and Ham is right at the cutting edge.”

While Dr Cable added: “This is a really imaginative, practical initiative that will provide environmental benefits with community gain.

“Although the project has received clearance, in principle, from the Environment Agency there are still many issues around charges still to be worked out.

“But I am confident that organisers will be able to get this project moving. They have my full support.”

It is hoped work on the project will start in summer 2012.

To find out more about the project and how to contribute email