Co-operating for a greener Hampshire

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative (HREC) has taken a close look at how much renewable energy is generated in Hampshire and the contribution we all make to total energy use within the county. The results are nothing to be proud of!

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative have produced a detailed report on the amount of energy used in Hampshire and how much of our energy demand is met by locally produced renewable energy. The results are disappointing. “Whilst the UK is close to meeting its targets for renewables; Hampshire is falling woefully behind” says Martin Heath a Director of HREC.

The UK has a legally binding target of producing 15% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020.  Most other counties in the UK are doing their bit to help meet this target. As Martin says “We all have a responsibility to produce as much energy as possible from renewables – it’s cleaner, cheaper and better. On average the UK meets about 12% of its energy needs from renewables.  But the result in Hampshire is a very disappointing 1.8%”.

Andrew Thompson, Chair of HREC points out “Hampshire is doing OK in installing solar but is really falling behind in other technologies which is a great shame as we in Hampshire have some of the best renewable energy resources in the country”.

George Belfield one of the main authors of the report says “We looked extensively at every renewable energy site in the county; from that we calculated the amount of energy generated renewably for electricity, heat and transport.  From analysis of DECC statistics we were able to ascertain just how much energy is used by the people and business of Hampshire.   It is surprising that Hampshire uses so much; what is even more surprising that almost all our energy is brought in from outside the county. Most counties in the UK are stepping up and meeting their responsibilities for reducing the impact on our environment from burning fossil fuels.  Unfortunately, we in Hampshire are not”.

Martin Heath, comments: “Just 1.8% of the total energy we use in Hampshire comes from locally produced renewable energy.  Other parts of the UK are achieving 5 times this amount. Climate change is something that affects us all – we have to step up and take responsibility. We can’t expect other to do it for us.”

The full report is here

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Notes to Editors

1.    Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative has been established to speed up the transition from fossil fuel based energy towards generation using renewable sources – such as wind, power and biomass. We aim to establish a range of renewable energy generation facilities in the county, maximise co-operative and community ownership and the benefits deriving from such production. By co-ordinating information on renewable energy projects, we can provide a resource for education about all aspects of renewable energy. For further information about the group, please visit www.hampshire-energy.coop
2.    HREC commissioned a report from local energy experts to assess how much renewable energy is being produced in the county and how this compares with how much is being consumed within the county.

 

The end for Bullington Cross? Or just a pause?

Well after thousand of hours of effort by all of us we learnt today that EDF Energy Renewables are withdrawing their appeal against the planning refusal for Bullington Cross Wind Farm.  This is no real surprise given recent Government announcements; but still a great shame.

2,845 of us wrote/email/contacted the local planners, local Councillors and local MPs supporting the wind farm. Unfortunately we have been ignored – for now!  Thanks to all your efforts the wind farm become the most widely supported wind farm application ever.    A copy of HREC’s press release is attached. Press Release July 2015.   Please have a look at it and send it on to friends and colleagues. Our local authorities cannot ignore us for ever. Sooner or later they will have to accept the inevitability of renewable energy and the benefits it brings to us all.

HREC continues to grow and we have a number of other community renewable energy projects in the pipeline. Watch this space!!

Of course if you want to give your views to your local council/parliamentary representative please feel free to do so.

Councillors say ‘No’ to community wind farm

Press Release – Local people let down by Councillors.

Yesterday Basingstoke, Test Valley and Winchester councils voted to ban the community owned wind farm at Bullington Cross.  All three  Councils decided to completely ignore the massive local support for the farm.

Basingstoke, Test Valley and Winchester Councils decided last night that they would ignore local people and voted to ban the partially community owned wind farm at Bullington Cross.

Two thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Five (2,845) people wrote to or emailed the three councils asking them to support the wind farm.  Despite this and with 70% of the UK population wanting wind farms OUR councils decided to refuse a planning application for the construction of a 14 turbine wind farm at Bullington Cross.

The majority of Councillors gave one or more of the following reasons for refusing the planning application from EDF-ER for Bullington Cross Wind Farm:

  1. The turbines look ugly.  This was despite being shown pictures on a big screen of what the turbines would look like and even the planning officers saying “Sorry; you just can’t see them”
  2. There was a perceived danger that aeroplanes might fly in to them.  This was despite two reports from aviation experts that there are no safety concerns over the turbines.
  3. Wind farms are a danger to wildlife that may live on the site. This was despite the offer from the developer to mitigate these risks and there being no objection from the RSPB. The biggest danger to our wildlife is global warming; but most councillors disagreed with that.
  4. The MoD needs the area to practice low flying. This was despite the councils being told that the MoD low flying area is 12,500 sq km and that Bullington Cross covers just 0.03% of this area (4.5 sq km).
  5. The turbines ‘might’ interfere with a weather radar 15km from the site.  This was despite the offer from the developer NOT to build the wind farm until this problem had been sorted out.
  6. The wind turbines ‘might spoil the view of a single listed house 3.9km from the site. This was despite being shown pictures that the turbines would be specks on the horizon at that distance.

Martin Heath a Director of Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-op said “Clearly this is a great disappointment to us and to the many volunteers that helped us out over the past 13 months. A lot of hard work has been put into getting a community ownership of the wind farm; many more people supported the wind farm than opposed it; but still our councillors don’t get it.  The biggest danger to us, our ecology and our wildlife is global warming.  Somehow our councillors think it is wind farms that are dangerous!”

Martin also thanked all those that came along to the council meeting; demonstrated outside and spoke-up at the meeting.  He said “It was heart-warming to see all those local people stand-up in front of the councils and so passionately describe their support for community wind farms.  It was equally disappointing when a majority of our elected representatives decided to ignore them.”

He continued “But this is only the beginning of our ambitions for community ownership of renewable energy in Hampshire. We will be encouraging EDF-ER to appeal against the decision;  we  are discussing a project to install a large solar system on the roof of a local college; and we are looking at other wind farm sites and at using waste to produce electricity”.

He also added “Many thanks to those councillors who listened to their voters; understood that the benefits outweighed the costs and voted for the wind farm”.

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-op is owned by members of the local community. They plan to invest in renewable energy projects such as Bullington Cross. All the profits made will be re-invested in other community energy schemes in Hampshire and in helping reduce fuel poverty within the community. END

Open Letter to Planning committee

Dear Committee member,

Global warming is already upon on us.  We can no longer stand-by and do nothing.

On June 16th you will be asked to make a decision that will have an effect on us, our children and our grandchildren.  You will be asked to ban the community wind farm at Bullington Cross.  But this is a decision that must be made in light of all the available evidence and a decision that weighs all the benefits against the costs.

You have received a 161 page officer’s report on the costs of the Bullington Cross Wind Farm.

It concludes that the planning application for a community wind farm should be refused.  Yet the report does not fully address the benefits the wind farm will bring to both our local community and to the wider environment.

In short the report is one-sided, short-sighted and subjective.

Our local responsibilities

Our government has made it clear that as a nation we need to reduce our carbon emissions by 20% by 2020; to do this we need to produce 30% of our electricity from low carbon and renewable sources.  We in Winchester, Basingstoke and Test Valley are falling woefully short of our target. Today less than 2% of our energy is from local renewable sources.

It is only fair and just that we in Basingstoke, Test Valley and Winchester do “our bit” to reduce the impact we all have on our environment. We have that responsibility to ourselves and to future generations.

The benefits are significant

Wind farms are quiet, efficient, inexpensive  and clean.

Wind farms do not emit Nitrous and Sulphur Dioxide, which destroy plant life. They do not produce soot, particulate matter or fly ash; which blackens our lungs. Wind farms do not burn imported and expensive coal, gas and oil that creates the Carbon Dioxide which is warming our planet. They do not release radioactive materials.

These are points that are well understood and accepted by all three councils.  All have policies in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, to encourage the development of renewables and to reduce the chances of catastrophic global warming.

The benefits are local

The benefits are clear and they accrue to the local community. The wind farm will;

  1. Be in partial community ownership and will deliver over £4 million in cash that will be invested in local renewable energy projects and in reducing the impact of fuel poverty in our community.
  2. Reduce the massive £1 billion a year we spend on fossil fuelled energy.
  3. Create local jobs.
  4. Provide enough electricity to power 15,100 (or 8%) of our homes.
  5. Reduce our carbon footprint by 26,000 tonnes a year.
  6. Provide more than £5 million in additional rates over its life time.

Wind farms are popular

Our community owned wind farm is popular.  2,845 people have submitted supporting comments as part of the planning process.  The vast majority of these supporters live in our local community.  As far as we know this level of support is unprecedented for any wind farm application in the UK.  Seventy percent of the UK population want on-shore wind farms.

We need action; not excuses

Our planners have produced a report that does not balance the costs against the benefits.  It gives seven main reasons why we should sit on our hands and discard the benefits of wind farming and ignore the threats of global warming.

  1. It says there is not enough evidence on the ecology. The  RSPB have no objection to the farm. At the council’s own request a full EIA was completed.  Any ecological damage can be mitigated. The biggest threat to our ecology is global warming and flooding.
  2. It says we should do nothing because of heritage. English Heritage has no objections and concludes all major effects are “mitigatable”.   The site is at the cross roads of two of the county’s busiest roads. This is not a heritage site.  The nearest village is 3kms away.
  3. They say the turbines look ugly.  This is a purely subjective view.  Most of us think they are acceptable.  Many think they are beautiful. Indeed it is a dangerous road to travel if we decide we must ban anything that is deemed ugly by planning officials.
  4. It says we should do nothing because of landscape amenity. Yet according to our planners this is an area that is heavily used by low flying military aircraft. It surely cannot be both. The biggest threat to our landscape is global warming.
  5. It says that there is a danger to aviation; yet neither the CAA nor NATS objects. The council’s own commissioned report on aviation concludes there will be no adverse effect on flying.
  6. It says that it will interfere with low flying.  The report does not point out that the Southern England low flying area covers 12,500 sq kilometres.  Bullington Cross will deprive the military of just 4.42 sq km (or 0.03%) of this area. A small price to pay.
  7. It says the wind farm may interfere with MOD radars. It will. But this can be mitigated.  The developers have agreed to do this as a condition of gaining planning consent.

We need an informed decision. We need a brave decision.

Planning decisions are never easy.  But they need to be based on a balanced representation of the facts.

The report before you has not balanced the costs with the benefits; it has only given reasons to do nothing; it has not provided us with the reasons why we must act. And why we must act now.

Wind farms are not perfect. But we need to act fairly and equitably and ensure we do what is required to produce the renewable energy we need. And we need to ensure that the benefits of renewable energy projects are shared with local communities.

Coming up with reasons to ban community owned renewable energy is not how a responsible council should act; making decisions based on partial evidence is wrong.

Councillors – we have a very simple choice in North Hampshire.  On the one hand we can generate our electricity from clean renewable modern technology or, on the other. we can continue to rely on dirty, expensive and imported fossil fuels.

The choice is yours.

Yours sincerely

Martin Heath

On behalf of Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative Ltd

 

Unprecedented support for local wind farms

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative (HREC) reaches an impressive 2,000 signature milestone almost 2 months ahead of target.

Members and supporters of HREC, a Co-operative for local renewable energy generation in Hampshire, have been proving that Hampshire residents want to see more renewable energy in the county.

Over the past few months teams of volunteers have spent time in Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover surveying the local population and the response has been resounding.  More than 2,000 Hampshire people have said ‘Yes’ to the proposed new wind farm at Bullington Cross by sending a letter or email of support to their local council.

stall photo                  TVBC150412-4601  

As well as street canvassing the HREC team has successfully used social media and direct mail to encourage local people to add their signatures to the campaign of support for the wind farm at Bullington Cross.

Martin Heath, HREC Director, comments: “This is an excellent effort. National statistics tell us that 70% of the UK population positively support wind farms and only 12% object to them. We’re really pleased that the people of Hampshire follow this national trend. It’s great to see such high levels of continued and sustained support for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm and we’re seeing more supporters joining every day.”

HREC was set up to create a range of renewable energy generation facilities throughout Hampshire. These facilities will be co-operatively run for community benefit. The Co-op also provides a valuable resource for all aspects of renewable energy.  HREC plans to own 10% of the 14 turbine Bullington Cross Wind Farm under its community ownership scheme.  The planning committee decision for this wind farm application is anticipated to happen this June

“We’re continuing our campaign efforts over the next 6 weeks as it’s imperative for the future of community owned renewable energy in Hampshire that the public have the opportunity to voice their opinions. We’ve provided an easy on-line mechanism for local people to add their support to the campaign. This and the dedication of our volunteers has been key to our success.” continues Mr Heath.

The Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-op Team will be at The South Downs Green Fair on Sunday 11th May, and also at the Highclere Game & Country Fair, May 25th & 26th. Full campaign events schedule can be found on the HREC website www.hampshire-energy.coop

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Co-operating for a greener Hampshire

Press Release – Co-operating for a greener Hampshire

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative (HREC) held its first Members and Supporters meeting in Winchester this month.

 

Members and Supporters of HREC, a Co-operative for local renewable energy generation projects in Hampshire, were invited to attend a free evening at The United Church, Jewry Street, Winchester, where they had the opportunity to meet other supporters from around the County.

 

Like minded people of all ages, from all corners of Hampshire – from Fareham to Basingstoke, from Lymington to Andover – had the chance to learn about the Co-operatives aims, campaigns and recent activities, as well as quiz the seven Co-op Directors about future projects and long term aims.

 Hampshire Energy Supporters Meeting

After a detailed presentation about the Co-op’s activities to date there was constructive debate and discussion about possible future activities. A new communications and marketing team has been charged with updating the Co-op website, and it was unanimously agreed that the Co-op should remain focused on its primary objective of creating new renewable energy generation facilities in Hampshire.

 

Martin Heath, HREC Director, comments: “It was great to see so many new faces at our first members and supporters event. We were particularly impressed by the amount of enthusiasm amongst the membership for us to press forward with some of our smaller scale projects, as well as the high levels of continued and sustained support we have for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm.”

Supporters Meeting Presentation

HREC was set up to create a range of renewable energy generation facilities throughout Hampshire. These facilities will be co-operatively run for community benefit. The Co-op also provides a valuable resource for all aspects of renewable energy.

 

HREC has to date focused on gaining support for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm. HREC plans to own 10% of the wind farm under its community ownership scheme.  Currently more than 1,300 local residents have already emailed or written to local councils supporting the wind farm, with numbers growing steadily.

 

“It’s imperative for the future of the Co-op and green energy in Hampshire that we find more supporters,  members and volunteers join in with a variety of community events across the county this year, and interested parties are invited to contact us via our website www.hampshire-energy.co.uk.” continues Martin, “We would also welcome invitations from event organisers for us to exhibit at local events, give talks and presentations or run small workshops abut renewable energy.”

 

The Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-op Team will next be in Winchester on 22nd March drumming up support and signatures.

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North Hampshire wastes hundreds of millions £s a year on imported energy

Press Release

New research from Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-Operative has revealed that hundreds of millions of pounds of local money is wasted in Hampshire each year through our energy use.

The newly-formed co-operative that is campaigning for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm to be community owned has found that vast sums of money are spent on energy in our districts each year. The research covered the districts of Basingstoke & Deane, Test Valley and Winchester and shows we spend over £1,150m annually in these three areas alone.

Martin Heath, Spokesperson from Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative, comments: “Households and companies in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester spend over £1bn a year on energy. This is a huge drain on the local economy. Almost all this money is lost to the local economy.”

The research based on figures from Department of Energy and Climate Change show just how much local companies and people spend on meeting our energy needs each year on heating, electricity and transport. Unfortunately almost all this money is paid to the big energy companies who have very small presence in the local area. With declining production in the North Sea now over 44% of our energy is ‘shipped in’ from outside the UK. Most of our electricity is generated in Midlands, South Wales and further North.

As Martin says “This means much of the money we pay for energy each year ends up in the pockets of European gas oligarchs, middle eastern oil sheiks and shareholders in France, Germany or Spain or supporting global banks. A lot of the rest is tax.”

Martin says “This is a great shame as in North Hampshire we are blessed with huge resources from the sun and the wind. We have even bigger tidal, wind and wave resources off our southern coast. With some sensible investment we could, in Hampshire, easily generate 20% of our energy needs from local, freely available, renewable resources. This would save us millions of pounds a year”.

This would have a massive impact on local jobs, make our local industry more competitive, provide a much needed boost to our economy and ensure the profits are kept for local people.

Martin adds “Over time we could generate more than 50% of our energy needs from local renewables. It’s about time that our local councils put policies in place to encourage this and we, as individuals and companies started investing in locally owned renewable generation. We have a choice either we can continue to spend billions on imported energy that destroys our environment or we can generate our own energy local from community owned infrastructure. This is what the Co-op is trying to do”.

You can find out how to join the Co-op at www.hampshire-energy.coop.

The figures

Basingstoke & Deane

Official government figures show that in Basingstoke and Deane, about £453million is spent annually by homes and businesses on their energy usage.

£45.8m is spent on heating bills in homes, with over £45m used annually for power consumption. Basingstoke uses over £199million in fuel each year. Commercially, businesses use heating worth £19.5m, with £56m being spent on power generation and £86m on transport costs.

Winchester
Homes and businesses in Winchester spend a total of about £324 million on energy each year.

Residents in Winchester spend over £33m on heating their homes, a further £33m on electricity and over £175m is spent annually on fuel. Businesses spent £11m last year on their heating, consumed electricity worth over £42m and used over £76m in fuel.

Test Valley
Test Valley businesses and domestic customers spent about £370 million on their energy each year.

Residents spent £32m on their heating bills, used power worth £34m and spent £147m a year on fuel. Commercially, over £13m was spent on heating businesses and industry, £32m on power and £63m was spent on transport.

The figures have been compiled from the 2012 Department for Energy and Climate Change report, “Average Annual Domestic Electricity Bills” and “Average Annual Domestic Gas Bills”, with commercial costs taken from the quarterly DECC report “Price of fuels purchased by non-domestic customers.”

How to keep money in Hampshire and benefit the local communities

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-Operative is in negotiation with EDF Energy Renewables, the company that is proposing the wind farm scheme at Bullington Cross. The Co-op wants to take a 10% ownership stake in the project. This will allow the co-operative to sell shares to local people who will receive an annual return.

Martin Heath comments: “Laying aside the environmental benefits that the Bullington Cross Wind Farm would bring, local community ownership allows us to keep some of profits in the local economy, benefiting the community here in North and Mid Hampshire. All forms of energy generation have costs and benefits, and this is one way in which we can keep the benefits within Hampshire.”

“Our Co-op will allow local people to buy a share in the wind farm, as well as creating a community surplus which will be used to fund local energy projects. We see this money being used for example to add free solar panels to local schools, insulation for scout huts and to educate the future generation about energy consumption and climate change.”

To find out more information about the scheme, register your interest in becoming a member of the co-operative and to show your support for the Bullington Cross Wind Farm, please use this website.

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Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative is launched!

Press Release

At last people in Hampshire will be able to directly benefit from the generation of locally produced renewable energy, as one of the county’s first energy co-operatives is launched.

Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative Limited (HREC),  has been formed to maximise co-operative and community ownership of new renewable energy generation in the county, and to provide an information about all aspects of renewable energy.

Martin Heath, HREC spokesperson, comments: “As one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, co-operatives are more common than most people believe. Co-operatives are a well-proven model for community energy ownership that is democratic, accountable and transparent. They are the dominant form of ownership for energy schemes in Denmark and Germany, and many successful schemes have already been set up in other parts of the UK.”

HREC will continue to campaign for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm, and is in talks to purchase a 10% share of the wind farm from EDF Energy Renewables.

The Co-Operative Model

Using the co-operative model, local people will be given the opportunity to buy shares in the wind farm and earn a fair interest on their investment. The Co-op plans to make a surplus which will be ploughed back into the local community. Martin says “Our aim is to firstly ensure that the co-op members get a decent share of the revenues generated from the wind farm and then to make sure all surplus money is re-invested back into the local community”. The Co-op will use surpluses, for example, to install solar panels on community buildings, or for the installation of efficient insulation in schools or village halls.

Martin continues: “All renewable energy schemes have costs and benefits, and community ownership allows us to bring back those benefits to the county. All the financial benefits of energy generated at the moment leave Hampshire and often go to the energy company shareholders, banker and investors outside of the UK. Using our model, the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm will allow us to improve the county’s energy usage for many years and to keep some of the financial benefits for ourselves.” He continues, “it will make Hampshire and cleaner and greener place to live”.

– ENDS –

 

How Government Support for Wind Farm Planning can help Bullington Cross

Hampshire Energy Group (HEG) supports the Energy’s Secretary’s view that wind farming is as much a local community issue as a national one.

Martin Heath, Spokesperson for HEG, comments: “We believe the costs and benefits of wind farming need to be equitably shared. The benefits from wind farming need to flow to local communities as well as to more distant developers, banks and shareholders. This is precisely what HEG is about – capturing the benefits of wind farming for the local community.”

The announcement also further reinforces the need for the local community to continue to support the wind farm at Bullington Cross. 64% of people in the UK support wind farms; only 11% oppose them. We are confident that local people in Hampshire will be keen to show their support for wind farming and ensure its benefits are felt locally in Winchester, Andover and Basingstoke.

Martin Heath continues: “Wind farming is efficient, cost-effective, renewable, modern clean and quiet. The alternatives are not.”

“Bullington Cross is the ideal site for a wind farm. It is remote, on the cross-roads of our counties two busiest A roads, the nearest village is 3 km away and it’s windy. And it’s not in an area of outstanding natural beauty; nor is it in a National Park. On this basis Bullington Cross is one of the best places in the county for a wind farm.”

To ensure that we Make Hampshire Greener, supporters can log onto www.hampshire-energy.co.uk where they can use a simple web form to make their views known to the local planning officers.

 

Support for Government Community Energy Schemes

Local community organisation, Hampshire Energy Group, has placed its support behind this week’s Government announcement on community energy schemes.

Martin Heath, spokesperson, Hampshire Energy Group, comments: “Increased generation of energy from renewable sources owned by local community schemes helps to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of renewable energy.”

The Group would like to see local and central Government make it easier for community energy groups to be able to establish themselves, with clear guidance on best practice and full Government support and guidance fed down through local authorities to ensure community energy schemes are given priority.

Bullington Cross
Hampshire Energy Group is already working closely with EDF Energy Renewables in order to bring a 10% ownership stake for the proposed Bullington Cross Wind Farm, on the junction of the A34 and A303 near Sutton Scotney.

Martin Heath continues: “We are in negotiations with the developer to ensure that we can bring the benefits of a local wind farm into our local communities. We recognise that all forms of power generation have costs and benefits, but community ownership will allow us to mitigate the costs with large benefits to the surrounding areas.”

The Group is intending to create a new co-operative by the end of July 2013, allowing members to invest in the proposed Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative, with funds being used to purchase a 10% share in the wind farm.

Revenue from this will be distributed back to the members, and surpluses reinvested back into the local community, for example, to fund local renewable energy schemes, such as solar panels on community buildings. .

How to make a difference
Hampshire Energy Group is asking people to help show their support for the proposed wind farm, by emailing local planning officers at the three councils – Basingstoke and Deane, Winchester City Council and Test Valley Borough Council.