"Towards a Zero Carbon Community"
Chairman’s First Annual Report: May 2007
Posted Thursday, September 6, 2007
Friends and colleagues, welcome to our first AGM. Although what we are doing is mainly wishful thinking, Regional Government has published what we’ve done so far, as a ‘success story’. Go to:-
Just over a year ago, the idea was born that it’s a strong possibility in our valley to “think global, act local”. We have the resources, human and physical, to set a good example to others. It’s a moral issue, as we watch the mind-blowing hypocrisy of many big and little governments, telling others what to do but doing nothing effective themselves on our behalf. We have a choice whether to “act local”, or just moan and groan.
Direct action, we decided, is more fun, is more satisfying and could even save and make money.
2. Global evidence.
During the year the Stern Report; the International Climate Change report; and “An Inconvenient Truth”, have confirmed the global essentials. Planet Earth is dying, it isn’t too late, there are solutions, but we need to act quickly. The bigger the government, the slower the reaction.
3. Local evidence.
Conversely, our community of 1600 souls should be ‘lighter on its feet’. We now know beyond reasonable doubt, after a year’s work, that there’s enough potential energy savings and renewable energy in and around our valley, to more than match the non–renewable, planet-poisoning energy we currently use.
We are not alone, and there is some support out there. Other places are doing similar things. We record our thanks to the Peak Park and Defra for its first encouragement and for £5000; to the Regional Assembly for a second grant of £6720; and to DDCVS and DDDC for admin grants.
5. The project.
Our treasurer has described our three main areas of activity in a user-friendly diagram: – energy saving; energy generation; and the socio/economic self-sufficiency of the community.
• Energy saving comes first, and begins with surveys of households and other premises.
The main available sources…
• The main available sources of renewable energy are:- methane from anaerobic digestion (AD); water power; wind power; sunlight (photo voltaic); sun’s heat (solar hot water); wood fuel from sustainable woodland management; ground heat; and diesel from cooking fats. SY won’t necessarily do all these itself. For example, Haddon Estate has recently decided, on expert advice, to install 37 households’ worth of water power at Alport Mill, subject to grant (gap funding). We wish them well.
So far, our priority is AD and wind, for which feasibility contracts have been let.
• Social and economic well being runs through it all - see the Village Plan.
Regeneration consultant Brian Mallalieu has pulled together all our bits into a 27 page illustrated brochure.
6. People and process.
It has astonished me that, in this very short space of time, so many people with so much enthusiasm and so many abilities have turned out for the project. Others who know Youlgrave better are not so surprised. There are 10 on the cttee, including most of the skills we need. We have a constitution and we have looked at social enterprise companies for the next stage. Our publicity officer publishes a newsletter. Our agendas, minutes and where relevant, our meetings, are open to all. Another 40 people have signed up as supporters. Most of the cttee and supporters have full time jobs; we are not only the ‘retired mafia.’ I’m told this is unusual and a very good thing. My warm thanks to you all.
7. What next?
By mid summer, we should have reports back from the two energy consultants. If the reports are favourable, we’ll seek the permits, share capital and capital grants, to set up an energy company. We will need to review our temporary constitution. We’ll continue to pursue energy saving and other energy projects. Later, for example, we could address bulk purchase; car fuels and car use; and social issues. We must lobby some of the local, regional and national agencies (that haven’t so far) to really recognise and support us. We need paid staff to help with research and admin. We have a web site in hand. There is a case for paid membership - a “Friends” body. We will be a chapter in the proposed village plan.
We can realistically hope to go ‘beyond carbon neutral’, without relying on external offsetting. If so, we would be unique, as far as I know. If we can’t do it…who can?
John Youatt Chairman Sustainable Youlgrave.