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Small-town renewable energy has big potential

Chesterton WindmillSmall-scale renewable energy schemes in small, rural communities could play a big role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet national climate-change targets, according to a new initiative from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) and The Co-operative.

The two organisations are in the Fens of Cambridgeshire today to demonstrate the potential of community, business and locally based renewable energy schemes.

According to the CRC, the  “Rural Experience” will encourage more individuals and local businesses to invest in small-scale green energy facilities and reduce carbon emissions.

Delegates from the initiative are today visiting the Coldham wind farm near the market town of March, a joint venture between the Co-operative and Scottish Power that supplies enough power for the equivalent of more than 9,000 homes. Another stop will be the nearby Elm Park Primary School, which has installed a community wind turbine at the end of its playing field and plans to install photovoltaic panels on the school roof.

The group are also visiting an anaerobic digestion plant called the “cow” at McCains chip factory in Whittlesey and will hear about plans for a new state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion plant at the Fenmarc Produce vegetable packing factory in March.

“In all, these four schemes will produce enough electricity to power over 18,000 homes and show the real potential of rural communities and businesses to tackle the challenges of climate change in the future,” said Sarah McAdam, chief executive of the CRC. “The visit will also help inform the CRC’s response to the government’s consultation on feed-in tariffs and the proposed Renewable Heat Initiative.”

“Our wind farm at Coldham is an excellent example of how a rural community can get involved in a project that can make a meaningful contribution to our energy needs,” said Lynda Shillaw, managing director of The Co-operative Estates. “Thanks to the diversity within The Co-operative — in planning, land management and finance — we have the expertise in making a variety of renewable installations a reality and, most importantly, we recognise the importance of involving local people from the outset and giving them direct input into all aspects of our schemes.”

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