Hockerton Housing Project Celebrates 20 Years

Hockerton Housing Project (HHP) in Nottinghamshire is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion it welcomed the Chairman of Newark and Sherwood District Council, Councillor Keith Walker, to unveil a plaque commemorating the legacy of three parties. The project would not have got off the ground without an enlightened landowner, pioneering architects and a visionary local authority.
The homes at Hockerton Housing Project (HHP) use 20% of the energy used by a similar-sized house built at the same time, for the same price. The Project also meets much of its remaining energy demand through onsite wind turbines and solar PV. This idea caught on in its wider community. In 2009, the parish of Hockerton invited the trading arm of HHP to manage the installation and management of a community-owned wind turbine. This now generates power equivalent to that used by the village and raises funds for the sustainable development in the community. See the events section of this newsletter for details of upcoming tours of the project.

Ambergate Hydro on Hold Again

A local potential community-owned hydro project is on hold again following new barriers to the project from government agencies and departments.

Amber and Derwent Valley Community Energy (ADVyCE) would like to install a small turbine on an existing industrial site at The Wire Works. The turbine would be owned by members of the community and has the potential to generate 1.3 million kWh, reduce carbon emissions by 683 tonnes and power nearly 400 homes annually. It would also provide funding for local community work.

ADVyCE first proposed the project in 2011 and began work on the necessary applications, but in 2015, the government made unexpected changes to the Feed In Tariff (FIT), which pays for energy produced by small scale renewable projects. The project was shelved for a few years. In early 2018 the group revisited their plans and decided to have one last go at gaining Ofgem accreditation and a guaranteed FIT for the life of the project before the closure of the FIT support scheme in March 2019. They recently resubmitted an abstraction licence pre-application to the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, the EA has changed their conditions and requirements, compared to their 2013 response, to such a degree that the project cannot progress. There is now a requirement for a fish pass to be designed, approved and included in the project, plus additional survey’s and studies.

In addition, changes in policy mean that the group cannot be told what the business rates on the project will be until after it is complete, making it impossible to ascertain if the project will be financially viable. It is possible that the group could install the turbine and then find that all the profit raised for Community Benefit aspect of the project would instead have to be paid in Business Rates.

The group will now be lobbying three MP’s whose constituencies would have benefited from the scheme, requesting that feedback goes to the three government departments that the group believes have impacted the project significantly (BEIS, DEFRA and MHCLG) and to the Prime Minister.

The group announced the disappointing news in a newsletter to supporters, in which they said:

‘Many people and organisations are also working hard across the country to find new ways of developing Community Owned renewable energy projects with new developments such as battery storage, community power purchase agreements, Energy Local supplies, EV car charging or hydrogen generation. These models are being developed with a range of renewable technologies, but it still seems that hydro power projects will continue to struggle under the currently regulatory climate.

‘A lot of work has been completed by the project team to enable Ambergate Hydro at some point in the future and we know there is strong local support for the project; so a change in policy and regulation by any future government could restart the project.’

Nottingham City Council’s Work to Reduce Carbon Emissions Wins National Award

Nottingham City Council’s Energy Services have won The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Award for Best Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative.

The APSE awards, which recently took place in Edinburgh, celebrate outstanding achievement and innovation within local government. Energy Services were recognised for their innovative approach to reducing the council’s energy demand to ultimately improve its environmental performance and help manage its budget.

The council’s energy projects include

  • Solar systems on over 40 operational sites, which save the council over £150,000 each year and bring in over £300,000 year via FITs, a subsidy for the generation of renewable electricity.
  • UK’s first publicly owned solar car park at Harvey Hadden Sports village and Ken Martin Leisure Centre
  • Operating one of the largest district heating networks in the UK which is powered by energy-from-waste; many council buildings are connected to this network for their heat and power
  • Energy efficiency projects such as LED lighting and upgrading heating systems – last year alone the team completed over thirty projects which will save the council over £100,000 each year

Councillor Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment, said: 'It’s a great achievement to have won these awards and testament to the services’ innovation and hard work.

'By reducing operational costs and generating income for the council the Greener Building Strategy is making a real contribution to the protection of front line services and keeping services viable for those in the most need. Also the large number of energy projects that we are delivering under the strategy has enabled us to create a large workforce in this area creating local job opportunities in managing, installing and maintaining sustainable energy technologies.'

Wayne Bexton, Head of Energy Services, said: 'My service is extremely proud to have won this award, it is great recognition of all their work to deliver a fantastic array of energy projects over the last twelve months.

'We are now building on this success and working with local companies on a commercial basis to help them reduce operational costs and achieve improved environmental performance, further contributing to Nottingham’s green credentials and supporting local businesses.'

APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said, 'The winners of these awards are amongst the best at delivering outstanding local government frontline services. APSE works continually to encourage public service excellence and we are delighted that all our finalists and winning councils are so highly committed to delivering the best possible services for the benefit of their communities.'

Poll Shows British Public Wants Urgent Action on Climate Change

The British public wants urgent action on climate change, and strongly supports holding fossil fuel companies and the UK government accountable for the negative effects of climate change, a ground breaking new survey from ClientEarth reveals.

After a record heatwave in the UK and northern Europe, the majority of British people think fossil fuel companies, whose products contribute directly to climate change, should be made to pay damages for their role in contributing to global warming (71%), and also that the UK government must do more to help prepare for and adapt to climate change (62%).

Undertaken by YouGov and commissioned by environment lawyers ClientEarth, the survey involved more than 2000 adults, and aimed to capture British public sentiment towards who should pay for climate change, fossil fuel investments in personal finance and what the future of Britain’s energy should look like.

Key results of ClientEarth’s Climate Snapshot include:

  • Almost two-thirds of people think the UK government is not doing enough in adapting to climate change and limiting global temperature increases;
  • More than eight in ten believe that fossil fuel companies who knew about climate change early on and continue to lobby against taking action should be responsible in some way for the costs of major weather events (83%);
  • Almost three quarters of consumers would be interested in joining a community energy scheme if the government made it easier (71%), and individuals were keen to install their own solar panels (62%) and home energy storage (60%);
  • Three-fifths would be interested in a financial institution, such as a bank account or pension fund, that considers the climate change impacts of the companies it invests in (62%).
  • Almost two-thirds thought investing in fossil fuel companies was risky long-term and more than half thought such companies could not be trusted to change their business model;
  • More than two thirds were in favour of breaking up the Big Six’s market share to allow smaller, cleaner, and locally owned energy systems to develop (68%).

Nottinghamshire Reduce, Reuse, Recycling Fund Open for Applications

Community groups based in the county of Nottinghamshire (excluding the city of Nottingham) can apply for grants of up to £1,000 for projects which help people in Nottinghamshire to reduce, reuse or recycle waste.