Transition Town Totnes has been selected as one of ten ‘first movers’ in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge. Launched late last September, the scheme was run on incredibly tight time frames. A pot of10 million was distributed among 20 projects to help install new green technologies, such as solar panels, hydro turbines and energy saving insulation.
The Totnes project, called Transition Streets, will bring together groups of neighbours, helping them become knowledgeable about reducing their own energy use and carbon footprint. They will get free or low-cost loft and cavity wall insulation and draught proofing, alongside advice on the type of renewable energy infrastructure that might best suit their house.
Residents deciding to invest in solar photovoltaic panels for their roof, will be given grants towards the purchase and they could be free to low-income households. By the end of the year, 140 homes – around 5 per cent of Totnes – will have photovoltaic panels installed. They will also be fitted on Totnes Civic Hall, which currently has little insulation and spends more than6,000 every year on electricity alone.
Totnes secured625,000, of which only 10 per cent can be allocated to manage the programme. The money has to be spent and the equipment needs to be in the warehouse by the end of March 2010. “Only two suppliers could meet these tight deadlines,” says Fiona Ward, Transition Streets co-project manager. “This is raising the game in the town, making it much more visible and helping engage other parts of the community.”
Energy and Climate Change Minister, Joan Ruddock, sees the type of action being carried out by communities, such as Totnes, as vital: “Over a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by heating, lighting and powering electrical appliances in our homes. By 2050, this will need to be almost zero and we can only achieve that through the creative initiative of local communities.”
Transition Network have been working with the Department of Energy and Climate Change to help make the programme as community focused as possible. There were hundreds of applications, many from Transition Initiatives. “The response is an indicator of the ground-swell of activity across the country, involving Transition Initiatives, Carbon Rationing Action Groups, Low-Carbon Communities and others,” says Rob Hopkins.
Contact: Transition Town Totnes,
43 Fore Street, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 5HN
Tel: +44 (0)1803 867358