Notes from presentation by Anna Francis (Frome Town Council and Frome Community Energy)
Anna mentioned that Frome Town Council has declared a Climate Emergency with a target to be zero carbon by 2030. Frome has been developing low carbon initiatives for some time. These include a bulk purchase scheme for householders who wish to install solar PV (currently around 80 expressions of interest), bulk insulation offers and Wessex Home Improvement Loans. Anna also mentioned that Frome Town Council has a carbon emissions calculation tool and has supported community initiatives such as setting up the first community fridge in England, which is managed by volunteers and has social benefits in addition to the environmental benefit of not wasting food. They worked with the Hubbub Foundation who have now supported 50 community fridges https://www.hubbub.org.uk Anna mentioned Power Paired, a project supported by Forum for the Future to put community energy groups in touch with building owners that would like community renewables installations. She also mentioned the Energy Sparks school energy project which has free energy education resources. Currently Frome Town Council is working with consultants to set up a Citizens’ Assembly to develop a Climate Emergency Action Plan.
Notes from Tessa Munt’s presentation (Somerset County Councillor, representing Wells)
Tessa mentioned that she proposed a Climate Emergency motion to Somerset County Council which was passed. Also all 4 Somerset District Councils have passed Climate Emergency motions, 3 with target dates to be carbon neutral by 2030, one with no target date. Somerset County and District officers have been appointed to a climate action task and finish group with a target to engage with local stakeholders and present a climate action plan by November 2019 and a funded plan for delivery in the next financial year from April 2020. Tessa also mentioned that Mendip district Council has already approved a budget of £100,000 to support climate emergency actions such as emptying lofts to enable insulation to be installed. Somerset County Council has met with representatives of Extinction Rebellion groups and is currently considering options for setting up citizens’ assemblies or citizens’ juries. Tessa said that action at Parish Council level is also important and we should be aware of disadvantaged people who are struggling to make ends meet and are unlikely to be focussed on the need to tackle the climate crisis. There is also an active Community Action Network in Somerset including over 900 members. Notes from meeting Friday 12th July 2019 Wessex Water offices, Claverton Down, Bath Advocacy and Engagement with Local Authorities and Decision Makers
Notes from Rachel Brain’s presentation (SW Energy Hub Project Manager)
Rachel’s presentation outlined the support services available from the SW Energy Hub, particularly advice to the public sector, businesses and the community sector on developing new sustainable energy projects. Also the SW Energy Hub has been appointed by BEIS to administer a £1.8m of Rural Community Energy Fund (previously managed by WRAP). Stage 1 grants of up to £40,000 will be available for feasibility studies and stage 2 grants up to £100,000 for business development and planning costs. Capital funding for installation costs is not eligible. Rachel also mentioned a number sources of information available to assist local authorities to quantify Co2 emissions, including the SCATTER tool. Rachel agreed to forward a pdf with further information- copy attached. Group discussion Pete West (Dorset Community Energy) mentioned that he, Cllr Nick Murry and Alex Lockton (both representing Zero Chippenham) had met with Julian Head, the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP Strategic Economic Programmes Manager to help clarify the availability of ERDF grant funding available in Swindon and Wiltshire from Priority Action 4 – Low Carbon development. Julian confirmed that £5m of low carbon grant funding has been allocated to the Swindon and Wiltshire area with a minimum grant of £500,000 for smaller and community scale renewable energy projects, which also need to demonstrate innovation. A call for projects was launch on 28th June and will remain open until the end of September. Applications have to be made directly to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government but Julian Head can provide advice and guidance. There appeared to be an option for a collaborative community energy application which would need to be led by an experienced organisation such as the Schools Energy Co-op which can demonstrate the availability of match funding and a turnover appropriate for managing cash flow. Adam Brown, Senior Scrutiny Officer, Wiltshire Council, mentioned that following the declaration of a Climate Emergency, renewable energy, energy efficiency and carbon reduction tasks groups have been set up with 2 elected councillors and a number of officers assigned to each group. The groups have been tasked to provide a ‘long list’ of recommendations for consideration by the full council. Anna Francis mentioned the Climate Emergency UK website which has a lot of useful information including examples of local authority climate action plans, information on setting up citizen’s assemblies etc. https://www.climateemergency.uk/ Jane Stephenson ( Chair, Bath and West Community Energy) mentioned that Bath and NE Somerset Council (BNES) has set up a sustainability board and are currently working on ways to further engage citizens and businesses. As a similar example the Bristol Green Capital Partnership has 900 members and is developing a vision for the city. Also the Zero West partnership is a good example of collaboration to help deliver a regional zero carbon future. BNES has formally objected to the expansion plans for Bristol airport on road traffic grounds. 3 Stewart Crocker (Avalon Community Energy) mentioned that one of their members is currently writing a climate emergency actions guidance paper for local authorities, which can be circulated when it is ready.
SW Climate Emergency conference for Local Authorities
It was agreed that the Wessex Community Energy Network would help to facilitate a 1-day Climate Emergency conference and information sharing event for south-west local authority members and officers who are working on carbon reduction action plans. We will consult with local authorities to develop the structure and content, including guest speakers. Cllr Nick Murry, Cllr Tessa Munt, Lesley Bennett, Pete West and Liz Warren (Frome Community Energy) expressed interest in meeting as a subgroup to develop this proposal. If any other members are interested in helping please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org Next meeting It was agreed the next WCEN meeting will be in October at the Quaker Meeting House in Salisbury. The theme of the meeting will be ‘Scaling-up and co-operation between community energy groups’ It was suggested we could invite a representative from Community Energy South who have set up a separate legal entity to deliver joint projects. Also community energy groups in Somerset have met to discuss joint working and could be invited to give an update. Warren Hicks (Ricardo) mentioned that a presentation on the ‘Riding Sunbeams’ project may be of interest, as it includes a number of community energy groups collaborating to install ground mounted solar PV to feed directly into a SW Trains electric train line. Hugo House (Spring – previously a Good Energy project development manager) mentioned he would be interested in giving a presentation on post FITs solar farm development opportunities that may be of interest to community energy groups. Pete West (WCEN secretary) will organise the date, speakers and circulate details in September.