Government is ‘not taking Norfolk low-carbon project seriously’ – UEA report

Rex Warner MBE, founder member of the Reepham Green Team, with a car club vehicle, one of the major schemes to reduce peoples carbon footprint. Picture: Matthew Usher. Rex Warner MBE, founder member of the Reepham Green Team, with a car club vehicle, one of the major schemes to reduce peoples carbon footprint. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Monday, May 12, 2014
6:30 AM

A low-carbon project in Norfolk which could transform the way we tackle climate change is not being taken seriously enough by the government, according to a report.

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The Reepham Green Team is one of 12 community-led sustainable energy projects across the UK which University of East Anglia researchers claim is not getting the help they need.

Since its formation in 2004, the Green Team have spent more than £1m transforming the market town into an energy efficient eco-centre.

And in the report published today, researchers say initiatives like these have the potential to make big a difference in the battle against climate change – yet poor policy support is holding some projects back.

Lead researcher Dr Gill Seyfang, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “What we found is that there is a great deal of community enthusiasm for small-scale

innovative projects like this, but the resources available are not always enough to really help them flourish.” Despite the findings, Reepham Green Team founder and former explorer Rex Warner said the government does take their work – which includes solar-powered homes, efficiently insulated community buildings and a county-wide car club – seriously.

He said a team from Department of Energy and Climate Change visit Reepham each year to see the various projects.

Reepham’s Green Team’s core funding came from a £1m grant from the government’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge, which helped kick-start their 18 projects.

“The government has taken big steps forward in encouraging community energy projects,” said Mr Warner, who was made a MBE for services to energy efficiency in Norfolk.

“However, community energy is only one part of developing a sustainable lifestyle and sustainable communities. We also need to encourage sustainable transport initiatives such as Norfolk Car Club, local food production including allotments and, above all, find solutions to effectively heat our homes and tackle fuel poverty.”

Dr Seyfang has called for flexible and tailored policy support at all levels from the government.

“Community energy has a part to play in a sustainable energy future for the UK, but demands joined-up policy support, spanning community development, social inclusion, regeneration, energy and climate change,” he said.

A spokesman for Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The Coalition is determined to unleash the potential of community energy, helping communities to achieve their ambitions and drive forward a decentralised energy revolution.

“We want to bring more communities together to help them save money.”

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