The stimulus of applying for low-carbon community funding

Today will see the announcement of the successful applicants to the first round of LEAF funding from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). Congratulations to all!

I’m involved in a bid to be submitted on Friday, so I appreciate the work it took to get the bids in on time. We’re undertaking three months’ work in as many weeks, I’m told.

LEAF is the “Local Energy Assessment Fund” – a.k.a. loose change DECC found in its trousers pockets before the year-end wash. It was announced in December with two bid rounds. It’s £10 million for projects including feasibility studies for communities renewables and domestic efficiency measures.

Yes, it would have been fantastic to have had three months to design the bid and six months to a year to spend it in but, good grief, what a difference it could make anyway. Even if we don’t get the bid, we’ll have learnt some very valuable things in the process.

We’re a pretty lively rural community: two pubs, local shops, over 30 clubs and organisations spanning a range of ages and interests. When we’ve needed a new community centre, pre-school premises, school building, skateboard park or tennis courts, we’ve got on and done it. (Big Society? Localism? There’s been some localised sniggering.)

We had an informal Green Group which probably started ten years ago or more but it faded away. The conclusion was reached that there was no need for a formal structure at that point: when people want to do something, there were already enough ways of achieving it without adding a further administrative burden. We had Present Sense (a project supporting sustainable gift giving), an allotment society, a gardening club, a country market and so on. The school governors erected a wind turbine; the community centre management committee installed solar panels; individuals got on with their own measures; a team entered the Energy Neighbourhoods competition. And all the while momentum gathered so that in the initial Parish Planning survey, energy was identified as a top priority for residents.

However, trying to pull people in to grasp the nettle to take action as a result of that has been difficult until the LEAF announcement. People know enough to have a grasp of the time, effort and technical knowledge required to make a truly significant difference but generally already have a long list of other commitments.

That’s where the LEAF money offers a fantastic chance to move forward. We now have an impressive team to submit the bid and a range of wider community support, even though we have yet to do any publicity.

To mix two elephant metaphors, LEAF offers an opportunity to move from a sense of there being a very big elephant in the room which needs eating, to all pulling up a chair, tucking in the napkins and taking the first bites with relish.

It provides the opportunity for us to leapfrog a range of start up issues and get to the meat of what we need to know: what’s possible and what’s not in community renewables, what finance models we could use and what works and what doesn’t work in improving the general level of energy literacy in the community. A successful LEAF bid will move us forward three to five years. An unsuccessful one, perhaps a year or two.

Karen Wilkinson is a Lib Dem activist in South Gloucestershire

* Karen Wilkinson is a non-earning mother of three, parish councillor, deputy chair of Thornbury & Yate LibDems, Green Lib Dems exec member, and lead on a community energy project.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/26620 for Twitter and emails.

One Comment

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 25th Apr - 2:41am
    Matthew, I think we need to remember that in Gladstone's day the British East-India company was the largest global corporation in history, accounting for half...
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 25th Apr - 12:40am
    @jedibeeftrix. Have you really descended to this? Your comments always used to be interesting and challenging!
  • User AvatarRichard Dean 25th Apr - 12:37am
    There'll always be crises. It's a fact of life. Politics is the art of managing them and learning from them, and learning is what is...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 25th Apr - 12:23am
    Matthew Huntbach, If you read very carefully, you will find that Alex Marsh did not write a "flood of propaganda which insists that the pre-merger...
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 25th Apr - 12:06am
    the article, and the degree of division in the comments makes me lol. but at least the division represents a degree of sanity returning to...
  • User AvatarRay 24th Apr - 11:54pm
    There should be no bullying down to the "normal and harmless" homosexuality.
Sat 26th Apr 2014
Tue 29th Apr 2014
Fri 2nd May 2014
Sat 3rd May 2014
Sat 10th May 2014