In the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire (published in October 2012), 46.5% of respondents said that they’d support a community owned electricity generation initiative from renewables that could provide funds for community activities (19.7% said they wouldn’t support such an initiative; 33.8% didn’t know).
So it’s no surprise that community energy generation also features strongly in the draft Neighbourhood Plans. There are suggestions for a biomass plant on the ADAS site, a micro-turbine on the river, and, in early drafts, wind-turbines on the plain between Wye and Ashford.
The reason is because, despite Wye’s abundance of clubs and societies, I don’t see any group which is pushing for community energy production in Wye. Individuals certainly (many of them pushing in different directions…) but not yet a group.
Elham, featured in last year’s exhibition, has an environment group. The village hasn’t just achieved a ground source heat pump for their hall but has also organised discounts for residents for solar heating installations and PV.
Here in Wye, I can’t help feeling discouraged. It’s perhaps understandable that wind turbines have disappeared from later drafts of the Neighbourhood Plan maps – given the recent threat of development on Imperial College land and the fact that we border an area of outstanding natural beauty. (Although, as previously stated, I would have enjoyed a debate on the subject!)
More significant is that I question whether the community actually has the energy for renewable energy. Recently I have been pushing for a feasibility study for some sort of community energy production based at the village hall. The committee, overloaded by other matters (new boiler, new roof, new fencing for the children’s playground, new multi-use games area) has, understandably, so far not been able to take this on.
Despite the results of the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire, therefore, I’m not confident that we’ll manage much in the way of renewable energy production in the near future. Such is the complexity of other issues facing the village that renewables will for many be low priority.
Maybe it would be different if we had an energy group to do the legwork? Anyone interested?