Yesterday I found myself reading lots of stuff on renewable energy related to the Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) draft management plan and felt the need to write a little more on the subject – to add to my post of earlier in the week.
The draft management plan states: “Local renewable and sustainable energy initiatives will be pursued where they help to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and landscape character of the AONB and bring environmental, social and economic benefits to local people. Proposals will be expected to conform with the Kent Downs AONB Renewable Energy Position Statement.”
So what’s in the Kent AONB Renewable Energy Position Statement?
In the statement, the joint management committee of Kent AONB recognises that climate change is a big threat to the area, saying that over the past ten years 50 weather events have cost the Kent community £440 million.
With that in mind, they support “the need for renewable energy sources as part of the mitigation response to climate change”.
As I suggested in my last post however, commercial wind farms in the AONB are not considered the way to go. Likewise large-scale solar pv arrays (ie. No fields full of pv. They’re OK on people’s roofs).
The document suggests that communities look at biomass boilers to take advantage of the hazel and chestnut coppicing carried out locally.
To quote the document:
Governments’ wood fuel strategy aims to bring an additional two million tonnes (Mt) of wood into the market, annually, by 2020 saving 400,000 tonnes of carbon every year. (The equivalent of 3.6 million barrels of crude oil and enough to supply 250,000 homes with energy). To achieve this target the focus will be on the potential wood resource available in the 60% of English woodlands that are currently under-managed.
The AONB Partnership considers that the coppice woodland of the Kent Downs is an important target for wood fuel based renewable energy generation and that it is important to intervene to make the most of this opportunity. The near location of two growth areas makes the opportunity for the development of a wood fuel industry, which supports sustainable woodland management, more realistic.
The AONB employs an officer to promote the use of biomass in the area – who has visited Wye a couple of times in the past year to look at possible installations at the College and the hall.
On both occasions the timing wasn’t judged quite right – as there is so much else going on.
That, I feel, is very frustrating. Being bogged down with the big issues that the community is confronting means that we are currently unable to take up opportunities which could benefit not only us in Wye but the wider community.
How are we going to feel when every community around about has a biomass boiler providing heat (and money through the renewable heat incentive)? And we’re still running on gas (and hot air!)?