Reepham Green Team’s model eco-community

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.

Saturday, February 22, 2014
7:00 AM

10 years after it was founded, the Reepham Green Team have moulded the town into a model eco-community. ROSA MCMAHON reports.

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Reepham Green Team - The turbine at Reepham High School. Picture: Matthew Usher.Reepham Green Team - The turbine at Reepham High School. Picture: Matthew Usher.

10 years after it was founded, the Reepham Green Team have moulded the town into a model eco-community. ROSA MCMAHON reports.

A picturesque Norfolk market town has seen a green transformation over the last decade.

At the turn of the millennium, Reepham had one of the poorest carbon ratings in country.

Now it is a million pound pioneering eco-centre boasting a wind turbine, the world’s first electric mini-bus, solar-powered homes and community buildings fit for use.

The key projects are:

– The Reepham Car Club gives a pay-as-you-go car service which opens the car with a swipe card, aiming to cut emissions.

– Wind and solar project at Reepham High School is propelling both energy and knowledge about the green industry with a wind turbine on the school site.

– The electric mini-bus is one of the world’s first electric minibuses. It is charged up in Reepham High School’s car park before taking 15 passengers out on the road.

– The Reepham Housing Trust will save around £1,700 because of a major refurbishment of eight Housing Trust bungalows on Ewing Close. Solar panels were added to the roof, air source heat pumps and new radiators were installed and night storage heaters replaced.

– Installation of LED street lighting has seen the cost of illuminating Reepham reduce by 90pc. The 35 street lights will reduce energy use by 65pc and the light pollution from street lights will decrease.

– St Michael’s community building was transformed with under-floor heating making it as economically sustainable as possible. The church adjoins the parish church of St Mary’s which was given an energy efficient boiler and fuel tank.

Thanks to the Reepham Green Team, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the Georgian town has been leading a quiet revolution to develop a sustainable low-carbon lifestyle.

The team’s founder, 49-year-old Rex Warner, saw an opportunity for an informal social network to tackle issues in the community.

Once a world explorer tracing historic voyages, Mr Warner sailed 6,000 miles across the North Pacific on a bamboo raft for six months before moving to Norfolk.

The sustainable lifestyle he and the crew lived for six months – using solar power, recycling and fishing to keep alive – proved it can be replicated elsewhere.

So combining his experiences, with the passions and interests of the Reepham people, Mr Warner had a vision to deliver a wide range of projects focussing on low carbon living.

“In every community most people have a passion for something. It’s important to identify what those passions are, and then develop them,” he said.

“The key thing we have learn is using local organisations already established to develop projects.

“They have the trust of the local people, they are already set up and all the internal politics is already sorted out.”

A £1 million grant from the government’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge (LCCC) kick-started town’s eco-revamp.

The low energy make-over made the town first so-called Low Carbon Community in the country .

Split between 18 community groups, the projects were put at the heart of the community to improve energy efficiency across the town.

Funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, all of the projects started from the grass roots to deliver a low carbon lifestyle.

Since its formation, fuel and transport poverty have been at the heart of the Green Team’s agenda.

And the Reepham Car Club, set up five years ago, is the flagship project.

A pay-as-you-go car service which can be used any time of the week, its two cars in Reepham, 16 in Norwich and one in Aylsham provide access to transport and services across the county.

Set up by Mr Warner five years ago, the scheme now has 500 members and aims to reduce transport costs and carbon emission.

The Reepham branch’s popularity led to the expansion in to the Norfolk Car Club which aims to be the first county-wide car club in the country.

But it is the wind and solar project at Reepham High School and College which is the most visual schemes in the town.

The 24.8 metre wind turbine in the school’s car park powers the school, whilst the and solar panels decking the building aim to put the school at the heart of their own electricity generation.

And students get to use the turbine and solar cells as a practical reference in their studies.

The town’s main four streets and the Market Place are all lit by LED street lighting which reduces the illumination cost by 90pc.

But it is giving families land to grow their own vegetables which have been the “heart and soul” of the project.

The team acquired two three-acre fields for allotments for 70 families after a waiting list so long it would have taken 400 years to clear.

A Local Energy Assessment Fund acquired by the Green Team gave the town £110,000 which led to internal refurbishment at the town hall, a refurbishment of the primary school canteen block and others studies.

And their Reepham Insulation Project developed a community engagement model which led to the number of homes in the town being properly insulated increasing by more than 100pc.

9 comments

  • Monbiot-alive and well in footprint land. Put enough windmills up and you will watch the effective wind disappear. Pollution death figures quoted are absolute and utter nonsense. Global warming is an even bigger lie(but even if it was true, we would all have warm homes presumably) As for the EU fining us, as if ANYONE gives a hoot about Europe, are they fining any other countries in the union? I could name a few that care not a whit about 'green' (unless they are making a few bob out of it). This government are such a bunch of wimpy, public school, bandwagon-jumping, half witted scaredy cats, they will do anything to appease the cretins in Brussels, whilst trying to squeeze every penny out of the British taxpayers, in the name of the latest plan to save the planet. Why don't they pay the fine with the aid they send to India and China, who are not exactly the greenest mob on Mother Earth themselves. The idiocy lies in the people that think they can change Geological climate and therefore save the planet(which is more than capable of saving itself, at regular intervals) by putting a wind turbine up.

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    backwoodsman

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

  • The UK is about to be fined £300m from the EU because the country is not meeting the necessary emissions targets. 24,000 people die in London alone every year due to pollution related diseases. Around 31,000 people were meant to have died last year in the UK from having cold homes. We see more and more extreme weather, we know climate change is taking place having been proved by scientists, but continue to deny it. Cleaner energy production is needed and it is here to stay whether people, who still live in the dark ages, like it or not. Backwoodsman claim "green is just a way for certain people to make money", is total idiocy. Everyone benefits from cleaner energy, cleaner transport and warmer homes, to name but a few. Fossil fuels are a way for certain people to make money, as we see with British Gas who made a pre-tax profit of £571m. The gas prices keep going up, the profits keep going up and too many homes keep staying cold! WInd power isn't always inexpensive, no form of energy production is, but at least we know the wind will never run out. Unlike coal, gas and oil. It is time for people to drag themselves into the 21st Century and accept that something needs to be done to tackle these huge problems.

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    HappisburghHarry

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • OMG Callum I thought you were dead!! So quiet re Bodham turbine idiocy! Green = idiocy, every time!!!!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Good Grief Heaven help us! Green Energy = idiocy, every time The colour of danger is no longer red it's GREEN!

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    Windless

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Green is just a way for certain people to make a buck. Utter nonsense for the most part.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • And HH, where do you think the electricity come from when they aren't turning????? One alos, one assumes, that you are happy that the subsidies generated by these things, when they are turning, goes to Statoil in Norway. AND, and I really mean AND that the gas required to power the gas turbines to replace the electricity they ARE NOT generating also comes from Statoil So, in simple terms, puff off!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Can you tell what colours are through the smog, Windless?

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • Windless certainly has enough puff to keep the Sheringham Shoal turbines turning!

    Report this comment

    HappisburghHarry

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • BWM Absolutely right Green = Idiocy, every time!

    Report this comment

    Windless

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

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