Local community energy event – Lewes

On the 24th of November Sabine Hielscher attended a local community energy event that was organised by Lewes District Council (LDC). The aim of the event was to draw attention to community energy opportunities in the Lewes District, and to identify some practical proposals that could potentially be taken forward by the participants. Presentations included: a recent Lewes District Low Carbon Study commissioned by LDC’s Planning Department, financial opportunities to develop renewable energy projects, two community energy case studies and a final summary of the event from the Climate Change Officer at LDC, Matthew Bird.

Edward Sheath, the Planning Manager at LDC, was only able to present some of the conclusions from the Low Carbon study for Lewes District, concentrating mainly on the opportunities for renewable energy technologies (RE) in the local area. An outline of the report can be found at: http://www.lewes.gov.uk/corestrategy/. During the presentation, Edward Sheath pointed out that the refurbishment of the old and inefficient housing stock plays a major issue for reaching local climate change targets rather than the impact of new developments.

The speakers, who presented the two case studies, Ringmer Community College and Woodland Enterprise Centre, provided practical examples of local community action. For example, Ringmer Community College has about two hundred students who have volunteered to be Eco Reps. They are keen to improve the environmental performance of the college, and to not only change the attitudes of their teachers to environmental issues but also of their parents, siblings and friends.

At the end of the event, the panel discussion was dominated by community members who wanted to gain advice about funding opportunities, recommendations on how to develop RE projects in conservation areas and guidance on choosing reliable contractors to conduct RE feasibility studies. As well as the possibility to network with a variety of community energy actors, one of the major outcomes of this event has been the future plan to set up a Community Energy Partnership.