Forty rural homes off the gas grid are to benefit from support grants from Energy Savings Trust (EST) for renewable biomass and solar water heating technologies in a new community purchase scheme unique to Cumbria, run by Rural Cumbria Connects.
Established for community benefit, Rural Cumbria Connects is managed by Simon Sjenitzer and Hazel Broatch of Low Lucans Organic Research Centre (LLORC). Low Luckens Organic Resource Centre was founded in 2000 as an Industrial & Provident Society based on 220 acres of organic farmland, ancient woodland and river not far from Carlisle. LLORC works to promote sustainable farming, local healthy food and the countryside to visitors of all ages and abilities. Renewable heating is an important element of sustainable living in rural and urban areas alike, but it’s adoption in rural homes that are off the gas grid is seen as particularly important, not just in the reduction of carbon emissions from fossil fuels, but also in lowering heating costs, improving heating efficiency and quality of life.
The technologies supported in this initiative are Biomass boilers and Solar Thermal water heating systems and Rural Cumbria Connects has successfully arranged support funding from Energy Savings Trust that is significantly better than the Premium Payments previously available for householders. Under the community purchase terms the forty owner occupiers can get grants of £3000 towards biomass boiler installations , and £700 towards solar thermal panels, installed alone or in combination. According to its website,
“the Energy Savings Trust serves communities and households by giving impartial, independent and accurate advice on carbon emissions reduction, saving water, reducing energy bills and developing sustainable sources of energy.”
Simon Sjenitzer, Chairman of LLORC said “The scheme is unique and has shown what can be achieved by community organisations across Cumbria working together. We have been successful in securing over £100,000 in grants (through The Energy Savings Trust) for homeowners across Cumbria who are dependent on oil, LPG, and coal for heating their homes.” He went on to explain that the homeowners will receive their grants direct from the Government after they have installed one of the identified technologies. “Community purchasing of these technologies is expected to benefit customers and suppliers, create jobs and further encourage the developing fuel-wood supply-chain locally. There is an anticipated depth of benefit that transcends efficient home heating, free of fossil fuels.”
The UK has committed to improving energy efficiency in domestic properties and has identified rural properties in areas that are not on the gas grid as good candidates for renewable heat technologies.
Carl Bendelow, Projects Co-ordinator for Heart of Eden Development Trust has been instrumental in advancing several environmental energy projects with the Heart of Eden, including a successful Solar Photovoltaic installation and in-depth research into the feasibility of a micro-hydro electric project in the Eden. Carl said “The Heart of Eden Development Trust has an ongoing interest in promoting sustainable energy and so we’re very pleased to help rural homes switch to renewable heating. The uptake has been enthusiastic and the response shows that there’s a clear need and that our work has been worthwhile.”
Many people that Heart of Eden contacted about the RCC scheme have expressed interest in biomass boilers and solar thermal panels. In the face of rising fossil fuel prices and fuel poverty, switching to Biomass has attractive benefits going forward:
Pellets are about half the price of oil per kWh, can be bulk purchased and fed automatically from storage hoppers.
The government rewards users under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme (those who receive grants under this scheme will still be able to take part in the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive when it is introduced).
The fuel can be produced in Cumbria and surrounds, supporting local producers and reducing our dependence upon imported fuel so reducing the carbon emissions involved in “fuel miles”, and assisting local employment.
The fuel itself emits carbon from this current phase of the carbon cycle, not from past atmospheres, and is clean burning leaving a fine ash suitable for enriching gardens and sweetening acid soil. If not burnt, vegetable matter will emit carbon dioxide in the natural course of its decomposition.
Solar Thermal systems specifically assist water heating. Serving best in summer months, they require little maintenance and can contribute up to 60% of domestic annual hot water supply. More information on Solar Thermal from LOGIC’s site
LOGIC Renewables has been selected as the the preferred installer for the projects and will be installing systems over the next three months. LOGIC was selected by Rural Cumbria Connects for their experience in renewable technology installations (see Case studies) for being a local employer and investor in skills development and for their professional practice of using only industry registered and certified, CRB checked engineers with uniforms, marked vans, equipped with PDAs for independent communication with their Headquarters on Appleby’s Cross Croft Industrial Estate. LOGIC’s capability of servicing the installations and 24 hr emergency call-out also make the firm a good choice .
Kevin Hall of LOGIC Renewables said “We are very proud to be installers for Rural Cumbria Connects. Community group purchasing for renewable heating should make it accessible to more people and will also help local employment.” He went on to say “LOGIC has put renewables into community buildings, farms, hotels and residential properties. Biomass and Solar Thermal are good reliable technologies. ”
The community groups and LLORC are maintaining a reserve list for later submissions. So home owners who complete and submit the Expression of Interest (EOI) form (To download, click here to access the page) will have their interest registered and may yet be included in the event of any households dropping out, or if further funds become available. For more information on Rural Cumbria Connects please contact Hazel Broatch on 016977 48860 or Simon Sjenitzer 07796 763 816
For more information about LOGIC renewables contact:
Dave McGuiggan Renewables Manager 01228 59 8000
and view Logic’s website http://www.logic-group.co.uk
Heart of Eden
HoE has been keenly engaged in important social infrastructure and environment and development work in the Appleby area of Westmorland.
They worked on a feasibility study for a hydro electricity generation plant at Bongate weir, Appleby, Solar Photo Voltaic systems on village halls with Big Society funding, a survey of energy use in the HoE communities (the SEE study) and a DECC LEAF study for the creation of an energy node at Kirkby Thore. For more information please view the HoE website.
Project Development Officer
Heart of Eden Development Trust www.ApplebyBusinessCentre.co.uk Appleby Cumbria CA16 6QH
Please Vote For Libby Bateman As Digital Champion 2011
14/10/2011 in Big Society, Press Release by Charles Paxton
Tags: Digital Heroes, Heroism, Libby Bateman, Talk-Talk Competition
Please can you take a few moments to click the link below and vote for Libby Bateman as our Digital Champion for 2011? She really is a digital heroine. Though busy with running a business and as a parent, she has devoted a huge amount of her time and energy to improving broadband in Eden – its a vocation for her and she’s truly dedicated to improving internet access for us.
As chair of East Cumbria Community Broadband Group Forum she has been rightly short listed for the Talktalk Digital Heros Awards. We just need to vote to confirm that she deserves the name digital heroine. This has now gone out to the public vote on their website.
Click on Cumbria and vote for Libby!
If she wins this then she would disperse prize money for rural broadband projects in Eden.
That’s the kind of lady she is.
Please could you log on and vote for her? And ask your friends and family to do the same? Share it via social media etc.
Broadband Champion & Director EVD
Tuesday 19th July – Crosby Ravensworth enjoyed a ministerial visit from Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government with responsibilities for Housing and the Big Society. The rain held off as this personable gentleman laid the first brick in the Lyvennet Community Trust‘s affordable housing project. He spoke at length with members of the community about the project and was clearly impressed by the dedication, determination and drive demonstrated by Mr. David Graham, Chair of the LCT and the others members of the trust involved in having achieved so much.
After celebratory applause and photography Andrew walked with the crowd up to The Butcher’s Arms community pub. Here he was met in the doorway by a lad with a spade who’d paused to take a breather – the volunteers had been hard at it. Andrew inspected progress and was full of praise for the hardworking volunteers’ efforts, he then delivered a very encouraging speech in the soon-to-be completed bar area. In the course of his speech he remarked upon the exemplary nature of the project, the importance of maintaining the pub as the heart of the community and as service hub and the delightful scenery which he felt sure would be powerfully attractive to visiting patrons, of which, he declared, he expected to be one!
By Charles Paxton
People who visit Cumbria tend to do so for our landscape. With some of the most beautiful countryside in the British Isles on our doorsteps, landscape conservation is an important topic for many Cumbrians. Uunderstandably, we get quite riled when we hear of developments that threaten our landscape heritage.
On Saturday, June 4th I went along with some like-minded friends to a place near Longtown to participate in a demonstration and panel discussion against a wind farm proposal on Solway Moss. The threat in this instance is a proposal to build a wind farm of giant (125m tall) turbines on rare peat moss habitat favoured by curlews and migrant geese.
In addition to learning more about the Solway Moss itself, community conservation volunteers who’d won their own battles against maldevelopment shared strategic tips on how to prevail against the further proliferation of wind farms elsewhere in Cumbria. This is so important because each small community so beset faces very similar challenges. Anyone who watched BBC2’s Windfarm Wars documentary series will have a good idea of the attrition involved, but should not give way to despond. Thankfully the winds of change are turning against the inappropriate siting of wind-farms now.
Here’s my account of the day:
I’m very glad that I attended the June 4th demonstration against industrial scale wind turbines on Solway Moss and the public meeting and panel discussion that followed in Longtown’s Memorial Hall. I learned a lot. Our MP for Penrith and the Border, Rory Stewart responded to appeals from his constituents to protect our landscape with the passion and efficacy that is so characteristic of him.
It was the first time in Cumbria that such a wide range of anti-windfarm groups had assembled to voice their collective concern. It was especially heartening to see so many ladies and gentlemen, from the very young to the mature, gathered in defense of this rare raised peat bog habitat, haunt of wildlife and historic battlefield. Clearly undaunted by the concluding episode of BBC’s Windfarm Wars, it was good to hear representatives of various local landscape defense groups speaking out about the threats that overhang their lives. The message on one placard was particularly memorable, “No turbines near Nan”. I heartily agree with such a prohibition and when the time comes to write a letter of objection to this project – which I certainly will do, that will be one of my reasons for objection.
As Rory poignantly observed, the fight for landscape integrity is likely to continue beyond the span of our lives. Why should Nan’s head be overhung by this sword of Damocles?
After the demo we circumnavigated the north side of the Moss and admired the sizable remaining forest cover from a distance. It’s quite hard to imagine a worse place to put a giant wind farm than on a natural carbon sink in a flat-as-a-pancake flood plain where the 125m tall turbines will pose a potentially lethal obstacle to the night-flying migratory birds of the Solway wetlands. There’s no way the landscape will gel with these enormous machines or “flow” around them.
The plan to erect nine of these bobdignagian behemoths on the site is opposed by people on both sides of the border, Scots and English. Scottish landscapes have been savaged by a recent proliferation of these machines, Ayrshire particularly. An area of the Cambrian mountains in Mid Wales that rejected the offer of National Park protection in the mid-70s is now being vandalised beyond reasonable measure. The lessons are there to be learned.
At the panel discussion in Longtown’s memorial hall, Dr. Mike Hall of the FELLS group gave a short but powerful presentation on the issue.
The 1000’s of tons of reinforced concrete that would serve as the turbines’ foundations, plus tracks, ditches and cable trenches are likely to have a deleterious effect on the surrounding peat, drying it out, shrinking it and returning millennia’s worth of stored atmospheric carbon to the air, offsetting any savings achieved by the turbines which, in any case will become less and less as cleaner power stations are expected to replace the older dirtier ones.
Using the Government’s own data, Dr. Mike Hall showed that the expected emission savings of turbines like these (if allowed) will have fallen from 860kg for each megawatt hour generated in 2000 to 430kg today with a projection of just 70 kg for each megawatt hour by 2030. This clearly demonstrates that, in terms of climate change, wind turbines are not fit for purpose.
Rory Stewart informed us that the threat to Cumbria’s £2 billion annual revenue from tourism that giant wind turbines represent flies in the face of sensible economic planning and quite apart from that opportunity cost, the intense human suffering and social division that wind farms cause nearby residents is unacceptable.
He added that a switch from older Coal to new advanced Gas-fired power stations could reduce our CO2 emissions by a hefty 50% and would represent a far more effective strategy to meet Government climate change obligations.
It seems to me that in the light of the three new nuclear power stations planned for Cumbria’s energy coast and the switch from Coal to Gas-fired power stations it is becoming nigh-on impossible to justify the erection of wind farms in environmentally sensitive locations and places where such projects do not enjoy majority support from the local population.
Lyvennet Community Pub Shares Top 100,000!
Residents of Crosby Ravensworth Parish (and visitors to the area) are a step nearer to having another drink and meal in The Butcher’s Arms now as the number of shares purchased in the Community pub has just passed the 100,000 mark. Residents hope that the pub will soon return to its popular role as community hub. The current landlord had to close its doors due to ill-health, now the residents are investing in shares for a community purchase of the pub. There are precedents for Community pubs to do very well (Hesket Newmarket’s Old Crown pub is a good example in Cumbria) and if the purchase goes ahead as planned the shares are expected to yield a minimum of 3% in their second year.
Share value can go down as well as up, but this share offering is backed up by the “bricks and mortar value” of the building itself. There’s a case of a community pub in Yorkshire exceeding its initial sales expectations by about 50%!
Community support, good food and cask ales would be a very good starting point.
See www.lyvennetcommunitypub.com for the latest news and for information about how to buy shares.
Last Sunday saw the launch of the Share Prospectus for the Lyvennet community purchase of the Butchers Arms in Crosby Ravensworth. Following months of behind the scene activity a group of local residents have registered the Lyvennet Community Pub Ltd (LCP) as an Industrial and Provident Society, carried out a community survey, developed a Business Plan and a full share Prospectus.
The Pub, the last in Crosby Ravensworth serving the upper Lyvennet Valley area has been closed for over 6 months due to the retirement on health grounds of the previous owners.
A price of £255,000 has been agreed with the current owners and the group now have until 20th May 2011 to raise the required funding. They already have £160,000 in share pledges and these will be drawn down over the next couple of weeks and various small value grant applications are also currently being progressed.
Kitty Smith, the group secretary said;
“With a minimum of £250 prospective share holders are investing in the building; the “bricks and mortar of this rural cumbrian pub. This is a sound investment with the expectation of a dividend payable from year 2 onwards.”
Over 100 people attended the public meeting demonstrating the local commitment for the venture.
Given the groups involvement in the Eden Valley Big Society vanguard their work is attracting attention nationally.
Community Pubs Minister Bob Neill said:
“Three cheers to the LCP Group for working with the community to keep the heart and soul of the village, the Butchers Arms, alive and well. Pubs are important places for people to get together with neighbours for a drink and a catch-up, and their role in keeping communities strong should not be underestimated.
“The owners’ approach to working with the community to keep the pub open and offer new services for people is exactly what the Big Society is all about – power to local people. I look forward to stopping in at some point in the future to raise a glass to their success.”
Anyone interested in becoming a shareholder can find further information on the website www.lyvennetcommunitypub.com or by contacting the groups secretary Kitty via the site.
The group are also looking for tenants to run the business.
“Could Cumbria count fibre-optic internet connections as remedial action against CO2 emissions? Perhaps we should be able to, because fast broadband could save up to 4,600 km equivalent of CO2 emissions per household, per year! These figures from Jan Schindler’s presentation The Socio-economic impact of fibre to the home given at the 36th European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication, held in Turin, Italy, on September 19 – 23, 2010. If we extrapolate from these figures we can start to see the aggregated potential, for example, in the Big Society Eden Vanguard Pilot area a proposed broadband pilot scheme of about 1000 homes could save the equivalent of up to about 460,000 km of CO2 emissions per year. I don’t know how Jan worked out the figure, but if we said hypothetically that the average CO2 emissions rating in the UK is 162 g/km (Source: http://www.carpages.co.uk/co2/) then that would be a possible saving of up to 74,520 kgs of CO2 per year from the Big Society Eden broadband pilot project.
Some of the best landscapes in England are threatened with ruination at the moment by subsidised wind farm projects that won’t save very much CO2 because of the need for back-up power generation from conventional power stations due to intermittency of the wind. Sometimes it blows near a turbine, sometimes it doesn’t – all the time there needs to be a stable provision for households and businesses. During recent cold winters wind energy apparently contributed pitifully little energy, click here for coverage.
For more on this please see Dr. Mike Hall’s video presentation part 2 on the subject of the dubious claims of CO2 savings from wind. Please click here to read more about the issue in Eden from Rory Stewart, our MP for Penrith and The Border. I’m grateful for his defense of our landscape!
I believe that subsidy of fibre-optic internet connection to homes and premises instead of to wind turbines (where local people don’t want them) would be a far better use of public money as it would have multiple and varied benefits in addition to reducing CO2 emisions. What else does a Wind turbine do? It has but one role.
Here is some encouraging information about the role of broadband from the 36th European Conference and Exhibition on Optical Communication, held in Turin, Italy, on September 19 – 23, 2010
• “Usage of FTTH services has positive impact on environment
-Less commuting and therefore less traffic
-Less business travel
-Less long distance transport of patients
• Key results ofPricewaterhouseCoopers/Ecobilan STUDY 2009:
-The environmental impact of the deployment of a typical FTTH network will be positive within less than 15 years in average
-Intelligent deployment (e.g. using sewers and existing ducts) can even improve the positive impact of FTTH-Using FTTH and FTTH services can save up to CO2 equivalent of driving a car for 4,600 km per year –for every household!
• FTTH has a positive impact on the environment: 1 million users connected -at least 1 million tons of CO2 saved
• FTTH is a key sustainable utility driver to low carbon economic development.
• FTTHcan help nations, regions, municipalities, operators to meet their carbon reduction objective.”
On February 9th, I was kindly transported to and from a very nicely organised, well attended and highly illuminating event at Alston Moor’s Town Hall.
Fortified by coffee and biscuits from the local bakery we were treated to comprehensive coverage of the the Cybermoor Community Communications project.
Please see their site for more details and video links when they are ready.
I think that Daniel Heery and his Cybermoor team came across as very professional and polished, but it was clear from their presentations that they’ve done a lot of learning the hard way as pathfinders! 10 yrs ago was clearly a tough time to try and set up a Community Communications network. They may well be poised to reap rewards for their perseverance and years of accumulated experience, I think. They can manage and deliver community communications networks and maintain them with a convenient-looking electronic management system.
Thanks to the focus that Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border has brought to bear upon the subject through his Rheged Broadband conference and the continued efforts now reinforced by the Big Society paradigm shift – 2011 is a more favourable time for communities to upgrade to future-proof internet – I expect that Fibremoor will expand it’s customer base rapidly soon!
Alston Moor’s website strikes me as a very good example of a Community microsite, and they’ve got their act together with community transport too.
They shared detailed knowledge with us and encouraged us not to be discouraged!
This event has definitely confirmed in my mind that though wireless has its place, Fibre To The Premises is the way to go if we can.
About 100 people attended an event at Morland Village Hall on Wednesday evening that was both educational and interactive. Through some informative speeches and a clear, concise slide presentation there emerged a clearer understanding of the issues and of residents’ options on the matter, and also a clear mandate for the group to investigate the establishment of a Community owned broadband project.
Freddy Markham, Chair of the LLBG introduced the meeting with some essential general background information about the need to connect the final third (our rural communities) through a community driven project because the large providers are preoccupied with the cities and the rural areas would be too expensive to connect without spirited cooperation of the community and the granting of free wayleaves by landowners. He introduced Louis Mosely, aide to Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and The Border.
Louis introduced the idea of the Eden Declaration as an important statement of desired service and talked about the possibility of long-term low interest loans from the Big Society Bank.
Tom Lowther, our Cumbria County Councilor then explained Cumbria County Council’s desire to get the best value for money for Cumbria as a whole and said CCC was working with Mike Kiely of Broadband Development UK to seek the best way of serving a great number of people and organisations, he admitted that though the FTTC approach with BT didn’t match the specifications demanded by Champions through the Eden declaration, it could happen with the assistance of public funding from Broadband Development UK and by going through thorough public procurement procedures.
Lance Greenhalgh then delivered a concise and comprehensive slide presentation offering an overview of technological options for digital services – he emphasised that there was more to this subject than broadband itself .
He didn’t rule out satellite, wireless and fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) as each service may suit certain circumstances, but reinforced the position that Fibre to the home/premises (FTTH/P) was the best value future-proof solution available to us at this time. (NB because it’s future proof we can proceed with confident belief that it isn’t: likely to become obsolete / likely to be superseded anytime soon).
The Great Asby Group advised the retention of at least one normal phone line with plain ordinary telephone per village for emergency use in power outages. Lance mentioned the Femtocell solution for getting mobile signals into our homes via broadband and the usefulness of wireless service for Caravan parks and for remote outliers. He briefly covered who might deliver our services and finished off with a speedy overview of the considerable anticipated benefits of fast broadband.
Questions from the floor followed: how would video on demand TV work over FTTH? Extra equipment would be necessary : A YouView set-top box could be connected via ethernet cable and thence to a TV.
There was a question about whether way-leaves had been agreed yet. Mr. Markham answered that he had contacted, and was awaiting responses from, various parties.
There was a question about the sort of structure necessary to provide the Community service, Community Interest Company or Industrial Provident Society, but this was agreed to be a subject that would be better explored after establishing the extent of demand.
Our collective response to various questions, using Cumbria County Council’s electronic voting system brought the event to a conclusion. The voting system allows public opinion to be expressed collectively with anonymity.