Grant to help give area greener future

Les Underwood weighing up his 'carbon footprint'
Les Underwood weighing up his 'carbon footprint'

RESIDENTS of the Esk Valley have been invited to take part in a new scheme to help enhance the area’s green reputation.

The Esk Valley Community Energy Group, in association with Danby Village Hall, has just secured £30,000 funding from the Local Energy Assessment Fund, which will enable the group to look at potential energy efficiency and renewable opportunities in the valley.

The scheme will focus on Castleton and Danby village halls and the group members also hope that improvements will encourage more usage of these community facilities.

Speaking at an open day held at Danby Village Hall, Esk Valley Energy Group member Caryn Loftus said: “The village hall had a survey done by members of the community energy group to look at what measures they could take to get the building more efficient. This encouraged the village hall to help apply for funding to have a more-in-depth survey undertaken.

“All the information has now been gathered together so that the village hall will be able to see in the future if the measures planned will actually save money. Wednesday’s event was intended to give people the opportunity to find out how they can save energy and also find out about what renewable technologies there are.”

Les Underwood is secretary of Danby Village Hall and said that energy saving methods would also have the added bonus of bringing people back to village halls, the traditional centre of rural communities.

He said: “This hall was built in 1957 and over the years not a lot was done improvement-wise, but in the last five years we have had a complete refurbishment, but what we never really thought about was heating this hall and keeping it heated.

“There was a survey done asking ‘why don’t you use your village hall’ and a lot of those responses were it’s cold and not welcoming. If you go into a cold hall you won’t come back so if we improve the efficiency of heat loss to make it a nice welcoming hall then more people will use it.

“At the moment we are working with the experts and we’re hoping to get the roof insulated and cavity walls insulated, which will improve energy efficiency and show what sustainability measures can be done in surrounding village halls.”

However, Mr Underwood added that by attending open days and chatting with the community energy group, Esk Valley residents can discover more about how to save money in their own home.

He added: “As a layman this open day has shown me that you don’t realise what’s on offer. You think you know it all, but when you come to displays like these you learn completely new things you’re not aware of, for example chimney linings and biomass boilers - I didn’t know they existed.”

Reports have been commissioned to look into what sustainable energy methods are feasible along the Esk Valley, such as small-scale wind or solar power, two forms of energy generation that illicit a strong public response.

A portion of the £30,000 grant has been used to create a website, which launches today and that will give residents information on ways to save money and look at what renewables are available to suit their needs. For more information about different technologies visit www.eskvalleyenergy.org.uk