Thursday, 09 July 2020

New group to oversee green energy projects

A COMMUNITY action group is to be formed to manage green energy projects in the Henley area.

Chiltern Hills Community Energy will be assembled by the town’s climate emergency working group and will join forces with the Reading Community Energy Society to seek funding for initiatives such as the installation of solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

The working group, which the town council oversees, says this is more likely to attract investment than operating alone because of economies of scale.

Joining the society will also allow it to seek financial advice and management from Energy For All, an initiative which seeks to expand the number of renewable schemes nationally. It will join the Low Carbon Hub, a community energy company which offers grants.

Members can apply for a small award of £500 at any time of the year or a larger one of £5,000 every autumn. They may also nominate one building per year for a free energy audit worth £630.

The working group, which aims to make Henley carbon neutral by 2030, is currently offering solar panels to homeowners through renewable energy firm IDDEA, which has offered to donate £50 from each installation to a green project.

It also wants to trial an on-street vehicle charging scheme for residents of terraces and flats called Connect Kerb.

Chairman Tony Hoskins said: “We’ve called the action group ‘Chiltern Hills’ because we would like to expand it beyond the immediate boundary of Henley and have already has discussions with Thame.

“At this stage Henley is too small to have its own community energy society so this would be the best way to identify sites for installing solar panels to reduce emissions. We’ve identified about 200 buildings, from community premises to schools and commercial units, and are researching them. We need a good range.

“This will result in a benefit fund which can be ring-fenced for the communities in which the buildings are located.”

• South Oxfordshire District Council’s climate emergency advisory committee will recommend actions to tackle the climate emergency as part of the authority’s corporate plan, which will direct its work until 2024.

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