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
One man’s view of the day by Charles Paxton.
There was fair weather over Kendal for the 37th Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC) Annual General Meeting at The Castle Green Hotel in Kendal yesterday, Saturday 12 November. It was a pleasant venue, the event was well organised, well catered and attended by about 50 Councillors. There was opportunity to chat with people before the meeting and over the buffet lunch.
It has been a busy year for CALC with lots of work connected with the coming Localism Bill and close involvement with the County’s efforts to develop broadband access and preparing for demographic change. They’ve strengthened their membership base, now 94% of Councillors are CALC members. CALC will increase membership fees by just 3%, ( less than our current inflation rate).
There was well-deserved applause for the outgoing CALC President, Mr. Melvyn Redgers OBE JP and the nominated officers were unanimously approved for appointment. With the coming of the Localism Bill and the profound changes that this will bring to Parish Council responsibilities, particularly in the area of local planning, the guest speaker for the event Dr. Mike Hall and the theme of his presentation seemed very relevant for us in Cumbria.
In his presentation Windfarms: Rape of The Countryside or Salvation of The World?, Dr. Hall began with a short self-introduction. With a background in planning, he manages The Burnsbeck Nature Reserve and he’s been a key figure in the FELLS Group (Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery) for many years and has been involved in 7 public inquiries.
He stressed that in planning terms the siting problem has been exacerbated by increasing difficulty in mitigation, as turbine size has increased considerably over time, with applications for turbines 15-18 meters high in 1985 and recent designs being for very much larger structures (up to 165m in the UK). The largest turbines in Germany are 183m tall.
Having drawn the important distinction between visual impact (how the turbines actually look, i.e. in terms of dominance) and landscape impact (how the turbines impact upon the landscape character), he noted that our subjective reaction to them was another matter and likely to vary from individual to individual.
He then presented us with an itemized list of pros and cons of wind farms.
- Virtually no fuel costs involved in their operation,
- No supply chain problems,
- No Significant waste in their use
- Contribution to reducing CO2,
This petition might strike a chord with many Cumbrians who’d like to see renewable energy policy tempered with consideration for social justice!
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.
By Charles Paxton (Broadband Champion for Lyvennet Valley Community)
Better communications are increasingly being seen as essential for appropriate societal response to some important challenges of our times. Inclusive information exchange is critically important for:
More effective local government, Rural business development, Community health care outreach, Neighbourhood, Farm and business security, Regional renewable energy target obligations.
On Saturday, January 17th, 2011, interested members of the public participated in a conference at Carlisle Racecourse, hosted by Carlisle Parish Councils Association and sponsored by British Telecom plc. that as Ronnie Auld Chair of CPCA pointed out effectively heralds a paradigm shift away from traditional top-down, Big Government – Small Society, toward bottom-up, Big Society local empowerment. Better communications are being seen as an essential element in the transition toward greater inclusion and participation. Make no mistake, we’re not just talking about modernising technology here, a crucial element of localism is the Big Society ideal of greater public engagement in our society in multiple ways, including frank and open public dialogue and debate about the way we would like things to be. The effective exchange of ideas, perspectives and factual information is naturally expected to communicate, refine and improve ideas that can then inform practice to help steer progressive development.
As resources aren’t infinite, an important motivational factor for us is efficiency, making the most of our available resources! This is true in all matters, but especially relevant when it comes to our communications infrastructure.
BT will be making the single largest private investment of all time into upgrading British Communications infrastructure in the UK! Two and a half billion pounds.
However, unless we act in a cleverly coordinated fashion to gain maximum leverage from our existing resources, then our remote rural areas, often referred to as “the final third”, are likely to be the last areas to be connected to future proof Next Generation Access speed broadband. That’s generally considered to be symmetrical broadband at over 50 Mbps download and upload (fast enough for telemedicine applications). Ironically, it is just these remote areas that most need connectivity to overcome the challenges represented by geophysical rural isolation, according to recent reports:
There is open debate on BroadbandCumbria.com about how best to go about achieving an Eden-wide network and I recommend that you join the site, read up about it and have your say. It’s particularly important that you read The Eden Declaration (a credo statement for a desired level of service throughout Eden), and sign it too, if you agree with its contents.
The scale of the task is epic, the complexities are “eye-wateringly complex” (quoting Rory Stewart, our MP for Penrith and The Border) but the impact is likely to resonate far into the future, promising a broad range of benefits.
The Localism Bill, likely soon to become an Act, promises to give the most local of our authorities, our Parish Councils, far greater say in many of the matters that concern us most – our local ones. This is both a momentous development and a very necessary one to help our communities cope appropriately with the current and future challenges of modern life, and just as crucially, to make the most of the opportunities.
Click here to view a digest of new powers that will help increase the influence of local authorities Localism digest
Ronnie Auld, Chair of Carlisle Parish Councils Association opened the conference with an introductory speech explaining the format of the conference, the first half examining the current problems associated with broadband in Carlisle District and its surroundings and the second half examining the likely impacts of the Decentralising and Localism bill currently before parliament. He pointed out that both the broadband problems and the localism agenda warranted an issues-based approach on the part of Parish Councils. He said Parish councils will be playing a very important role in the improvement of broadband in keeping with the Localism agenda. He drew attention to a Carlisle area survey document in our conference pack and said that alongside quantitive data about the speeds that people reported getting, there were comments that reflected that their broadband services left a lot to be desired, and compared very badly in some cases to conditions in other countries. He cited several examples of disastisfaction, one experienced problematic disconnections and just 0.39 Mbps of speed. He talked of the importance of including broadband in Community Planning.
See his speech below (kindly made available by John Popham)
He introduced the next speaker, Rt. Hon. Rory Stewart MP for Penrith and The Border, as our Broadband Champions’ Champion!
Rory sits on the Localism Bill Committee and is one of the prime forces in the movement to bring more powers to the most local levels of government. He explained in no uncertain terms that community involvement would be essential in the effective roll-out of broadband throughout Eden and that unless there is seen to be a very good reason to stop them, the assumption should be to let each Parish or group of Parishes drive their project forward. He urged us to move away from the old state of affairs where Parish Councils could only suggest things or be consulted to one where it is assumed that they know what they are doing.
He says “Let’s create a situation where people want to sit on Parish Councils because they know that they’ll have the power, the responsibility and sometimes the financial authority to bring about change.”
The necessity for popular local participation is partly due to financial considerations. In order to connect the 27,000 homes in Eden by conventional methods (@about £5000 per household) we’d be looking at a total of around £135 million.
He then explained that funds have been allocated for a pilot study to help kick start the process, but that these funds were going to be spread thinly – “a proportion of £10 million” will come to Eden. This is where community support comes into it’s own. If we are prepared to gather, to define the demand and to aggregate it, to say that 70-80% of the community are prepared to use fast broadband then the economics become favourable for provision, if land owners are prepared to fore-go wayleaves, if communities are prepared to engage imaginatively and to use local assets, then the cost per premises could be reduced dramatically! Perhaps reduced to about £1000!
( Re asset sharing, please see this encouraging document (http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/b/10-1308-broadband-deployment-sharing-infrastructure-summary-of-responses.pdf) that was drawn to my attention on broadbandcumbria.com shortly after the conference!)
Barry Forde has since proposed a hypothetical plan that would employ great leverage, please click here to view
This is fascinating, we are now starting to get an idea of the potential tangible value in pounds of effective local democracy at Parish and Neighbourhood level and the potential value of intelligent mutualism within a competitive business framework! This is aside from, but would be compounded by the massive benefits to be derived from the better communications technology itself!
Localism clearly has major implications for our economic and social development.
Rory then said that if the Government were prepared to make patient finance available (perhaps via Parish Councils) that could be paid back at say £60 per year, then fast broadband service would seem far more attainable.
He then talked of the need to overcome a series of obstacles in technology, existing technical infrastructure and regulation. In order to make sure that the taxpayers £10 is used as well as possible then there’ll need to be an enormous amount of work done by government and civil servants. We’ll probably have a mixed solution. He cited the enormous amount of enthusiasm that was emerging in Parishes such as Crosby Ravensworth for super fast fibre to the home and said that while this unparalleled speed suited some people, he realises that other people may find a slower service acceptable.
He then introduced Bill Murphy of BT as the second guest speaker. His speech will be the subject of my next article.
This is the first draft of my account. It’s written from my point of view as Broadband Champion for the Lyvennet Valley villages of Crosby Ravensworth Parish and will be fleshed out with more interesting detail in due course between bouts of Website design and maintenance. Any errors are likely to be my own, are unintentional and will be subject to later correction and your patience is much appreciated with this work in progress. Here will follow a blow-by-blow account in the days to come.
Hard on the heels of his very dynamic and crammed-to-capacity Big Society Meeting at Gt. Asby on November 5th, our Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart followed up his successful Rheged Broadband Conference with a meeting of local community Broadband Champions and Community leaders at Great Asby Village Hall on Saturday, 6th of November.
It was a well organized event that enabled important ideas to disseminate and coalesce.
These ladies and gentlemen, drawn from Parishes all across the constituency gathered to achieve three purposes:
1) to hear, from Rory, the latest developments in the campaign to connect our rural populations with super fast communications that are becoming increasingly essential for our future prosperity and improving the quality of life. He has managed to secure more than double the amount of funding that we’d hoped for in order to help connect rural Cumbria to the fast lanes of the information superhighway!
2) to be brought “up t0 speed” about community fast broadband by leading experts including Dr. Barry Forde (founder of the CLEO fast broadband network for Schools), representatives of the Great Asby Broadband Group, Mike Kiely & Robert Ling of Broadband Delivery UK, Mr. Simon Jones from the UK Division of the Cisco Systems communications giant and Ms. Nicky Getgood of Talk About Local .
3) for a focussed discussion of key questions in smaller, local working groups of Community Broadband Champions. Our summarised findings were then delivered to the whole gathering so that we could share information.
A fine account complete with associated video and nice photographs can be found at Citizen reporter, John Popham’s weblog.
Here in the days to come, will follow a blow-by-blow account.
By Luke Diccio
PARTNERS helping to deliver the Britain’s Energy Coast initiative in Cumbria have expressed delight at the inclusion of land adjacent to Sellafield as a suitable site for a new nuclear power station.
The site is one of eight included in the Government’s Revised Draft National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation. Nominations submitted by RWE npower for land at Braystones and Kirksanton have not been included in the list, published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The nomination of the Sellafield site is a key plank of the Britain’s Energy Coast initiative – which aims to establish West Cumbria and Furness as a nationally significant generator of low carbon and renewable energy. The nomination was led by regeneration body Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria, working alongside partners such as Invest in Cumbria, making it the only nomination made by an area partnership rather than a utility company. Partners include
Last year a consortium comprising Iberdrola, GDF SUEZ and Scottish & Southern Energy bought the site from owners, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, with the aim of starting construction of a new power station in around 2015.
Brian Wilson, former Government energy minister and Chair of Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria, said: “The inclusion of the site next to Sellafield in this latest list is great news for the Energy Coast initiative. In leading the nomination for the site we have always been confident of the suitability of the site to host at least one, if not more, reactors. Given our world-class workforce and extensive supply chain West Cumbria should be part of Britain’s nuclear renaissance. We are now hopeful decisions remain within set timescales allowing construction to start as soon as possible so a new power station to be generating energy by 2025.”
Doubts about the ability of the Kirksanton and Braystones sites to contribute to new nuclear capacity before 2025 and concerns about the visual impact on the Lake District National Park were cited by DECC as the major reasons for them failing to make the revised list.
Commenting on this, Mr Wilson added: “The crucial thing is that West Cumbria has a nominated site in this new list, and we must now concentrate all our efforts on ensuring that our hopes are turned into reality at the Sellafield site. The decision to drop the other two does not come as a surprise. It was clear the communities in Braystones and Kirksanton were opposed to new build near their villages and the decision to remove them will bring great relief. It also demonstrates the tough challenge we face in balancing the nation’s need for energy and Cumbria’s need to build a sustainable economy, with the need to protect our world-renowned landscape.”
Cllr Tony Markley, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for economic regeneration and Chair of Invest in Cumbria, said: “The nuclear industry plays a vital part in West Cumbria’s economy and this latest announcement means that Sellafield is still in the right position to be a linchpin in the Government’s future strategy for energy delivery. As the decommissioning of the existing Sellafield site begins to gather pace, Cumbria needs to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the shift towards creating a low carbon economy which spans nuclear, fossil fuel carbon capture and renewable technologies. Cumbria boasts the workforce and natural resources to play a major role, bringing with it countless opportunities for businesses and inward investors.”
A new round of consultation led by DECC will close on Monday, January 24 2011, with the aim of finalising the list, subject to consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, in Spring 2011. More information on the consultation can be found at www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk.