Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Wind Is Taken out of Our Sales

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Wind Is Taken out of Our Sales

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

At a time when growing numbers of rural communities in the region want to start up their own renewable energy projects, Government funding for a scheme which helps smooth the way for such ventures is to end.

The Community Renewables Initiative (CRI) will wind up next month.

David Francis, director of Community Action Northumberland, which oversees the CRI in the pcounty, says: "It's incredibly sad that it's coming to an end.

"Neither Government or One NorthEast seem interested in further funding a scheme which, ironically when there is increasing concern over climate change, has done such good work for local communities.

"There is a big job left to be done, and this sends out a negative message."

One NorthEast invested pounds 10m in setting up the New and Renewable Research Centre (NaRec) at Blyth.

"Lots of money is going into cutting-edge energy technology, which is great, but very little is going in grassroots support for projects which local people can control themselves and benefit from," Mr Francis said.

The final weeks of what was known in Northumberland as the Renewable Energy at Local Level (REALL) scheme is being administered by Morpeth consultants North Energy Associates.

Nicky Smith, a director of NEA, says: "Because of climate change and increasing awareness, lots of groups have decided they would like to know more about renewable energy.

"Groups want to incorporate renewable energy into local buildings but they are struggling to find anyone to help them."

NEA is currently working in feasibility studies for both Bellingham town hall and heritage centre, and halls at Powburn, Ingram and Longhoughton.

At Rochester in Redesdale, villagers have included renewable energy features in the current upgrading of their village hall. This includes a scheme to tap natural underground heat, which is fed into radiators, and building insulation made from the fleece of Herdwick sheep.

The heating system was financed by Northumberland National Park' sustainability fund and advice came from REALL. …

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