Community rallying round to build new eco-village at Hautbois

Work has started on creating an eco-village which will be used to educate and inform people how to be 'green'.

The eco-village, when it is complete, will be situated at the Hautbois Residential and Activity Centre near Coltishall, and work has started on creating the first village building – an eco-classroom.

The eco-classroom or eco-hub as it is referred to, will have a tyre-based foundation, straw-bale walls and a sedum roof – sedum being a plant widely used in green roofing.

A large overhang on the roof will give outside classroom space and wet weather cover.

It is also intended for the building to use as much solar energy as possible, with floor to ceiling windows and the possible inclusion of a wood-burning stove for top-up heat.

Tori Pigg, communications officer with Girlguiding Anglia, which operates from the site, said: 'The idea is that it can be used by anyone –schools, groups, and business. We want a village that uses wind power, and also possibly has its own vegetable patch, where people can come and stay for the weekend and find out about living sustainability or how other people in different cultures already live like this.'

It is hoped the eco-classroom will be finished by the end of this year, with the building work itself being helped along by local people and other organisations such as the probation service, who have been laying some of the tyre foundations this week.

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The idea for the eco-village came about in 2008, after an energy audit was undertaken at Great Hautbois House on the site, which suggested the implementation of sustainable power and heating technologies, to reduce the carbon footprint and to be used as educational tools.

One of the suggestions was to build a small wind turbine on the Curlew campsite within the grounds to provide some of the power to the estate, which led to plans to make more of the campsite, building up an eco-village.

As well as the eco-classroom, there will also be log cabins where people can stay and timber eco-pods, which will be used as wooden tents for overnight stays.

A timber toilet and shower block will also be installed to provide facilities for visitors.

The development will be built in phases, as and when funding permits. Funding so far has come from a legacy left to Hautbois, but plans are under way for more funding to complete the rest of the village.

The vision is to create a site that will have a zero or even negative carbon footprint and to source products locally and from Fairtrade suppliers.

There are still places on a course taking place this weekend helping lay the tyre foundations of the eco-classroom.

More information can be found at www.hautbois.org.uk/event-eid238.html.

tracey.gray@archant.co.uk