How the folks of Ashton Hayes in Cheshire wish that they had the backing of DECC’s Community Energy Strategy in 2006 when they set out to become England’s first carbon neutral village! When we embarked on our journey towards carbon neutrality we even had to take time off work to go and convince the local council to support our actions. Then we worked hard raising the cash needed to run an awareness raising campaign. However, we did get immense free support from the like-minded leaders of the local school and businesses and the University of Chester has been an invaluable project partner.
Eight years on we have learned a lot. We have cut our emissions by 23%, have a community owned Power Company that generates a profit for Ashton Hayes and other thriving social enterprises. The dedication of our community in striving for more sustainable lifestyles has been also recognised by the Government and media. And the whole process has been great fun too!
We have been pleased to do our bit to help DECC develop the Community Energy Strategy which addresses the big issues for communities wishing to take ownership of their power consumption and generation. The Strategy sets out how to remove the numerous obstacles that took us too long to overcome and brings fresh mentoring support and incentives for communities with vision. It will also force the large power companies to take community energy seriously and encourage community ownership. It is a major step in the right direction.
No Government strategy can remove the hard work involved in grass roots action but the Strategy provides a key with which to unlock the inherent potential in many communities across the UK.
Let’s now all leverage the support provided by the Community Energy Strategy to bring community power to the people!