3 Jul 2009

Loft Lagging Bid initiated by MP

David Drew scheduled this public meeting for last night - 'Stroud Loft Lagging : the next steps' - tennis and the weather I am sure kept many away but nearly 20 of us assembled in The Old Town Hall in Stroud (it's going on again at 10am today at Kingshill House, Dursley).

I hugely applaud David's move on this - far, far too little has been done by the Government and indeed local councils. Part of the meeting was to look at firm action plans 'to ensure that every Stroud loft capable of it is insulated within the next two years'. Fully lagging our lofts is regarded as the simplest and most cost-effective measure we can take to reduce our heating bills and our carbon emissions.

The meeting shared what is happening in other parts of the country, agree an outline way forward for Stroud and appoint a leader to work up a realistic and costed action plan to bring back to you within a realistic time.

The four options discussed:

• the Kirklees Warm Zone model : the council pays for all lofts to be insulated free of charge, irrespective of householder income
• the rebate model : the Council offers a council tax rebate to all households which can show they have insulation in their lofts to the specified standard – Kensington and Chelsea demonstrated the legality of a rebate model this year when they gave a £50 efficiency rebate to all households - although this was not linked to energy efficiency
• the energy company model : for example, in partnership with an energy company, the Council channels a ‘rebate’ from the energy company to all households which the company insulates.
• the Village Greening model : a ‘bottom-up’ community approach to implementing such energy-saving measures within your community (see poster on this blog and link below).

Greening Campaign

One of the speakers was Terena Plowright, the founder and director of the Greening Campaign, and there was also a presentation from Environment Agency spokespeople about the impacts of climate change on Stroud. What I loved about the Greening Campaign was how people were encouraged to take part - a leaflet was delivered with 8 action points - if you took 5 then you put the poster in the window - immediately huge numbers of these posters were put up - the messages were later reinforced by film shows, public meetings and displays in shops, libraries, etc.

The next step of the campaign is then to evaluate its success which is done by a combination of public surveys and card counts. From this information the annual CO2 cut for the community can be estimated and reported in the local paper. For Petersfield the saving was an amazing 23 tons of carbon dioxide ( a single ton of carbon dioxide would be about the size of a four bedroom house).

Next up comes the pack with opportunities - apparently just been produced - in many ways it sounds like many of the things that Transition Towns have been doing - local food projects etc - after that there is a toolkit being compiled to look at adaptation to climate change. Great stuff - if we are to pursue it here in Stroud then we will need to see how we can link to Transition Stroud and others - there is lots of overlap but my feeling is that a Greening Stroud model may reach parts that Transition hasn't...anyhow that is up for further discussion....

Other models

Out of the others my favorite is the Kirklees model - mentioned many times on this blog - it
came about by a Green party amendment and much work to gain cross-party support - locally we have not yet made so much progress in this but I am still hopeful - it was paid for largely by grants from the energy companies - but it also meant the Council borrowing which increased the Council tax by £7 per householder per year for 25 years. To me this is small fry compared to the money saved by householders - often £200 per householder per year and with Peak Oil this will be even higher in the future - plus of course the carbon savings.

In my role on Stroud District Council's Performance Scrutiny committee, we are in the process of launching an inquiry that will be looking into some of this area - plus also recently there was a meeting which I attended to see how SDC can work better with utility companies. I will be watching - and indeed offering support to this latest move which looks set to bid for money to take an innovative approach to cutting carbon.

One of the things we learnt from the Eco-Renovation Open Homes weekend that I organised last year and am planning again for this September, is that people are very enthused and fired up to take action immediately after the event but often it slips and it just doesn't happen as people are busy - we need to explore ways we can really support people to make the changes that are needed.

Another initiative I have just set up is a scheme with Transition Stroud to get energy monitors into libraries - the scheme will now be managed by SWEA and hopefully start in September. This again is a great way to get those already interested involved but how do we reach all the others? Of course there are many different routes - I hope this new bid will allow us to explore more locally - and of course really make a difference in cutting the carbon.

Links no longer work have been removed.

Village Greening Campaign : http://www.greening-campaign.co.uk/

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