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'SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, SHOPS AND HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS CAN CONTRIBUTE TO A GREENER UK'

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Brian Wilson, minister for energy, today launched a new initiative to ...
Brian Wilson, minister for energy, today launched a new initiative to

help schools, offices and housing developments in England play a part

in reducing the effects of climate change.

The£1.6m Community Renewables initiative will set up local

support teams in 10 areas covering half of England. The support teams

will help local people and organisations devise renewable energy

schemes suited to their area. The aim is to not only create

environment friendly developments but to enable community groups to

directly benefit from the income generated.

The local support teams, which are made up of local councils, energy

experts, government bodies and other specialists will provide advice

and training on feasibility studies, funding, technology issues,

planning, environmental assessment and public participation.

The key areas of funding which the community schemes can draw upon

will be the government's:

-£20m major solar photovoltaic (PV) demonstration programme

which will include support for community projects and individual

households.

-£10m programme for renewable energy schemes with strong

local community or household interest

-£5m renewable energy budget for fuel poor households that

are off grid or without mains gas connections.

Examples of the types of projects the initiative hopes to develop

include:

- Turning waste from farm and food waste into natural gas to

generate electricity for community buildings

- Using wood fired boilers to heat schools

- Harnessing solar energy to power hospitals

Mr Wilson said:

'This initiative could lead to schools powered by small scale wind

turbines, hospitals with solar rooftops and houses with wood chip

fired boilers.

'Everyone can play a part in increasing the amount of renewable

energy the UK uses. Educating people is the key to helping people

develop their own renewable energy ideas. I am determined to no

longer waste the will and determination of local groups to produce

green electricity.

'These new projects will bring educational opportunities and local

jobs as well as the obvious environmental benefits. Potential for

employing manufacturing skills is an important part of the case in

favour of developing our renewables.

'Another key aspect of this initiative is that it will give a further

source of income to the communities involved in such schemes.

Innovative ideas like this could be the key to regenerating some our

more deprived areas.

'The support teams will also provide innovative ways of providing

cheap and efficient power to those who live in tough social

conditions. Crucially, they may be able to help set up renewable

energy schemes for households which aren't connected to the mains gas

supply.'

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Countryside Agency board

member Tony Hams said:

'This month's cabinet office Energy Review called for public

involvement in renewable energy. This is exactly the role of the

Countryside Agency's Community Renewables Initiative. It will help

people devise renewable energy developments suited to their own

locality, that they can benefit from.We are delighted with the

support we've received from fellow government departments. Now we

must work together and help people get environmentally sensitive

renewables projects on the ground.'

A list of the regions where the local support teams will operate are

at Annex A.

Notes

1. The initiative is a joint scheme between the Countryside Agency,

The Energy saving Trust, DTI, DEFRA and the Forestry Commission.

2. For more Information about Community Renewables visit our website. The Countryside Agency

is responsible for advising government and taking action on issues

relating to the social, economic and environmental well-being of the

English countryside.

3. The government expects to create a£1bn market for renewable

energy by 2010. The main driver for this will be the shortly to be

introduced renewables obligation which will put an obligation on

electricity suppliers to supply ten per cent of their electricity

from renewable sources. In addition a£260m support programme

has been provided over the next three years.

4. The government announced its proposals for the new Renewables

Obligation on 5 October 2000. Copies of the

latest Renewables obligation Consultation consultation document are

available from the DTI website.

5. The Scottish executive will be implementing a similar obligation

in Scotland.

Annex A

Local Support Teams are being set up in the following areas:

Northumberland and Durham

David Francis, Community Council of Northumberland

Cumbria and Lancashire

Maf Smith, Furness Energy Partnership

North, West, and South Yorkshire

Robert Clark, Kirklees MBC

Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk

Clare Hall, Ecotech

Shropshire and Herefordshire

Richard Davies, Marches Energy Agency

The East Midlands region

AlisonHepworth, East Midlands Regional Assembly

Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

Graham Ayling, Severn Wye Energy Agency

Devon and Cornwall

Paul Baker, Devon Association for Renewable Energy

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire

Keith Richards, TV Energy

Surrey, Kent, and London Borough of Croydon

Nigel Blandford, Surrey CC

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