local needs takes a step forward today as the Countryside Agency
announces the first stage of its new Community Renewables initiative.
Solar energy, wind power, small hydro electric projects and growing fuel crops
- such as coppiced willow for heating the local school - are all types of
schemes that can be done at a community level.
Countryside Agency chairman Ewen Cameron said: 'The Countryside Agency sees
great possibilities for the government's drive on renewable energy to play a
valuable role in the countryside. There are real opportunities for rural
communities, rural entrepreneurs and the environment to benefit from this
exciting modern agenda.
'It will bring new skills and livelihoods to the countryside, and help people
realise how they can link renewable energy to countryside activities, whether
this is managing farm waste, heating new housing developments, harnessing local
wind power, or developing new markets from farm woods. We are delighted with
the support we've received from fellow government bodies - now we all need to
turn this vision into projects on the ground.'
The Community Renewables initiative is focused on community based partnerships
looking at ways of harnessing renewable energy in their locality. The
initiative will support partnerships in three pilot areas in England, which
will be announced later this year. The Countryside Agency is urging
organisations such as local authorities and regional development agencies to
get together and support schemes in their area. Groups likely to get involved include farms, schools, housing developments, businesses, hospitals and community groups, some of which might arrange themselves in local trusts for this purpose. They will be given advice and training on all aspects of their developments, including getting the finance together.
An advisory group chaired by Countryside Agency board member Tony Hams will
oversee this initiative and help co-ordinate the input of government bodies.
The Community Renewables initiative is supported by all government bodies
involved in renewable energy: the DTI, Forestry Commission, Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Energy Savings Trust.