St James and Bartonsham Car Club goes live on 1st June! This is really exciting news and something I blogged about here in December. We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years, and over the last few months a number of people have put in lots of work (none more so than Rebecca Semple), on legal aspects, setting up a bank account, website, booking system, sorting out insurance, grant applications and lots of other tasks. Now at last we are ready to go! We currently have fourteen households signed-up, and this number is growing. We are planning to start with a ratio of about one car per six households, so are launching with just two cars despite having four cars donated or loaned. We hope to run three or four cars, and will do so as membership grows. We expect to save money, reduce our carbon emissions and reduce the number of cars cluttering up our streets. One benefit is that we are getting to know our neighbours, and we are enjoying working together!
Last Tuesday I gave a talk to the Towards Transition group in Leominster titled ‘Transport for the future’. Redesigning our settlements to be more accessible for walking and cycling, investing in better public transport systems, backed up by the switch from individual car ownership to car sharing clubs and changing from fossil fuels to renewables is all part of what I spoke about. (I’ve blogged here in January about German rail system switching to renewables and in December I wrote about our car sharing club wanting to use the ground breaking Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell cars) There was quite a bit of interest in trying to get a car sharing club going in Leominster. As ever more of us take the initiative and make the changes we want to see in our localities and in the world it gives me hope that a better future is still possible. Onwards!
My report ‘Localising Herefordshire’s Energy Economy, Eco² Herefordshire: A Vision of the County’s Future’ is now available in full. I’ll paste-in the executive summary below, and a link to the full report is at the bottom. Of course many of the arguments and examples will be familiar to readers of this blog, but hopefully still well worth reading in full. I’d be grateful for any feedback via this website.
Currently Herefordshire spends about half a billion pounds per year on energy. The vast majority comes from fossil fuels, which are projected to become increasingly expensive. Nearly all of this money leaves the county; most leaves the UK altogether.
By investing in radical energy reduction and renewable energy generation, Herefordshire could turn this £0.5bn annual outflow into a major financial inflow. At the same time it could surpass carbon reduction targets, increase energy security, reduce fuel poverty, improve health and wellbeing, and develop education, training, and employment opportunities.
Pioneering communities in Europe have already achieved very high levels of energy autonomy. For example, over the last 20 years, the small Austrian town of Güssing (pop. 3,800) has turned their €6m annual energy bill into a €15m annual income through the local ownership, generation and supply of renewable electricity, heating and transport fuels. The transformation was instigated by a pioneering mayor and driven forward by a supportive and highly engaged local council. Among other benefits, 1,100 new jobs have been created, helping to reverse the outflow of young people from the area.
Similar transformations have taken place in many places, notably in the Bavarian town of Wildpoldsried and in Frederikshavn in Denmark. In fact, as of March 2012, the goal of achieving 100% renewables for all sectors of the economy (electricity, heating and transport) is now official government policy in Denmark.
Partnership working is a key aspect of the proposed changes. Dialogue between political, business, environmental and community groups will improve further as we work to form a common set of goals and priorities. This report sketches out how such a future might be achieved in Herefordshire, as a contribution to current debates about visions for the county. Against a background of ever-increasing energy bills, the time is now right for a revolutionary shift in the county’s energy economy.
To read the full report click here.