So, you have a great idea to make your community more efficient in its energy usage, or want feed-in tariffs to benefit your parish hall or community building. But then comes that daunting prospect of putting ideas into practice. Don't depair, take hope (and hopefully inspiration) from others who have already embarked on the journey to a low-carbon future.
Here we introduce some local examples of sustainability in action, from around the county of Staffordshire. Perhaps you can learn from their experience, and begin to feel that you are part of a growing sustainability movement in Staffordshire.
Derrington Way Ahead
Location: Derrington, a village of about 900 people west of Stafford
Low-carbon community project
Webpages: see Way Ahead pages on Derrington Village Hall website
Now well into its seventh year, this can boast some great achievements – 54 household energy surveys, over 100 fruit trees planted, a village trail with signage, talks and wildlife events, and the staging of several successful Local Food Festivals in the village each attracting some 200-300 people. In 2010, 24 solar PV panels were fitted to the village hall; income from the panels is contributing to running of the hall. See Derrington Way Ahead: taking the low-carbon route; Derrington Village Hall's energy makeover. In 2016 the group secured a grant of £10,000 from Tesco's Bags of Help scheme to help fund a disabled access route through the village's community woodland, Duddas Wood.
Whittington and Fisherwick Environmental Group
Location: parishes of Whittington and Fisherwick, near Lichfield, Staffs, combined population of about 2800
Low-carbon community project
This has been at the forefront of the low-carbon community movement, and has won several regional and national awards. Their lively and attractive website is well worth a visit for inspiration, as is the group's annual Big Green Fair. An early focus of WFEG was to provide household energy audits, coupled with subsidised insulation. They have also arranged energy efficiency measures for the Village Hall, Church Hall, and local pub, and encourage local people to take part in an Open Homes event, which gives other villagers a chance to see what measures have been installed and how effective they are. People are also invited to measure their carbon footprint annually, via the WFEG website, with the data being collected and used to assess the progress of the community in reducing their carbon emissions. The project was also inspirational in setting up Southern Staffordshire Community Energy - a community energy cooperative.
Madeley Community Development Project
Started: about 2000
Location: Madeley, north Staffs, CW3 9DN
This new multi-purpose building, officially called the Madeley Centre replaces the old village hall, and provides a wide range of community services. Besides a gleaming new hall and society rooms, the building houses a community cafe, children's centre, health clinics and rural enterprise hub. And it is designed to be carbon neutral, with high-spec insulation, glazing, and ventilation, solar panels and a ground-sourced heat pump. A project team, comprising individuals from the village hall, parish council and other community groups, worked for over 10 years to see this project come to fruition, with the hope that it will serve as beacon for sustainable community life well into the 21st century.