Community solar projects and a green energy plan for Somerset are among the local actions taking place in response to the global climate emergency.
World leaders attending the COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt this week are calling for a more urgent drive on delivering greater amounts of renewable energy.
Here in Somerset, this call is being answered in part by plans for a new Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP), along with a number of community-based renewable energy projects.
Starting this month, the five Somerset Councils are commissioning a specialist consultant to carry out an extensive survey of the county for the new LAEP, in which suitable locations for potential renewable energy projects will be identified – and, whether the locations are compatible with connection to the National Grid.
Councillor Sarah Dyke, Somerset County Council’s Executive Lead for Climate Change, said: “There is a huge focus on increasing our production of renewable energy right now: globally, nationally and locally here in Somerset. It is vital that we create and seize as many local opportunities as possible.
“We are eager to start the process for the Somerset Local Area Energy Plan, which we hope can form a basis for discussion with landowners to explore whether a mix of privately and publicly-owned land can be utilised in making Somerset even more environmentally friendly and climate resilient.”
New solar panels and battery storage systems, installed in around 20 community-based renewable energy projects over the past 12 months and funded by Somerset County Council’s £1.5 million Climate Emergency Fund, are also contributing to Somerset’s climate emergency efforts.
This ‘green’ energy, generated from community buildings, is cutting carbon footprints and significantly reducing energy bills, simultaneously addressing the global climate and energy crises.
Somerset County Council’s Associate Lead for Climate Change, Cllr Dixie Darch, was invited to visit West Buckland Village Hall by Cllr Dyke last week, to see its new solar panels and energy efficient lighting system which have been installed using £8,450 from the Climate Emergency Community Fund.
The thriving Village Hall is at the heart of its community and, thanks to the new energy improvements, the building is now providing most of its own power – for events ranging from pub nights to pilates.
Councillor Darch said: “We are determined to stay ahead of the game in Somerset when it comes to tackling climate change, but we also know that these types of projects will benefit the local community in terms of increased costs of energy too.
“It is great to see the Climate Emergency Community Fund being used to support projects like this one at West Buckland. It’s crucial that we continue to seek out as many opportunities for creating local renewable energy as possible.”
For more information and tips about saving energy in Somerset, visit Climate Emergency – Individuals and communities (somerset.gov.uk).
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