Funding awarded for ‘better than carbon neutral housing’ scheme

A scheme to develop ‘better than carbon neutral’ housing in Somerset has secured £25,000 grant funding to move plans forward.

A Wiveliscombe Community Energy Scheme is being developed by Somerset Cooperative Community Land Trust (SCCLT) with the potential to deliver heat and electricity for 20 affordable homes for local people in housing need and 2 community/social enterprise buildings. The scheme could also generate income from selling energy to fund local projects, determined by the local community.

The £25,000 grant was awarded by the South West Energy Hub to explore the feasibility of the scheme and help to shape the technical and financial options to optimise carbon savings and community benefit. The feasibility study will also help to develop a model for small scale developments that could be shared with other community land trusts.

The South West Energy Hub works with organisations and communities across the region to identify, develop and implement low carbon energy projects. It is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and hosted by the West of England Combined Authority.

Somerset Cooperative Community Land Trust is a community land trust a with a mission “to provide sustainable affordable housing, and workspace for community enterprises, in Somerset; promoting co-operative principles and equality of opportunity for the benefit of the community.”

SCCLT has an option to buy a disused former brewery in Wiveliscombe with the ambition to create an affordable development of housing and a hub for social and community enterprise. The funding awarded will support SCCLT to explore opportunities for a community energy scheme, using solar PV and a heat network to make the development better than carbon neutral, and provide income for wider community benefit.

Alan Debenham, Chair of Somerset Cooperative Community Land Trust, said: “This grant will give a real boost to creating more affordable homes for people in housing need. These will not only save carbon emissions, but do more for combatting climate change by generating green energy – as well as selling surplus power to provide an income for local green projects. On top of this the residents and social enterprise hub will both be able to benefit from low energy costs. It’s a win-win for our future residents and the Wiveliscombe community.”

“We’re very grateful to the South West Energy Hub for the grant. It means we can develop ways of bringing together affordable and sustainable community-led housing with community energy schemes, that benefit the whole community. It will help us, and others, to plan more schemes like this across Somerset and the South West. We want to see schemes that combine sustainability, community energy, and affordable housing, and facilities and support for social enterprise and jobs- like this one in Wiveliscombe – in more towns across the county. It’s time to put communities in the driving seat!”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP said: “Clean energy and clean growth are central to our mission at the Heart of the South West LEP, so we’re very proud to be part of the South West Energy Hub. Securing these grants for local developments will help increase the number and scale of low carbon energy projects in our area and help reduce our carbon footprint.”

Heart of the South West LEP is one of seven covered by the SW Energy Hub. The Energy Hub works with LEPs and local councils to support the delivery of local energy projects.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for South West Energy Hub said: “This project is a great example of how green energy can benefit the local community, as well as the environment. It shows that renewable energy can be viable at many different scales – relatively small projects like this can still make an important contribution towards tackling the climate emergency and reducing fuel poverty. We hope other communities in the South West will be inspired by this innovative scheme.”