Heating buildings with fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) accounts for nearly 25% of the UK’s CO² emissions, most of which come from people’s homes! In addition, two thirds of the country’s ageing housing stock have an EPC rating of D or worse. One of our key aims, therefore, is to encourage more homeowners in the Hope Valley to insulate their houses in preparation for the switch to low carbon heating systems – a central goal of the Government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy.

One way we are trying to achieve this goal is by organising an annual OPEN ECO-HOMES EVENT, when visitors can visit a range of homes in the Valley where the owners’ renovations have improved energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

Evidence suggests that would-be home improvers are confused by the mass of information currently available, distrustful of some of the advice from companies offering retrofitting services, and concerned about the costs involved, the problem of quality control and the likely upheaval caused by the improvement work. A second ongoing task of ours is, therefore, to offer reliable, experience-based guidance on ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RETROFITTING and to, hopefully,  build up a local network of homeowners and installers who have carried out energy saving/generation measures and are willing to share their knowledge/offer their services.

Recent government modelling concludes wind and solar electricity generation might have to increase fourfold by 2050 in order to achieve net-zero by 2050 and although most generation will take place off-shore, it is likely that on-shore generation will also increase, especially as the public is increasingly supportive of it. The government has also indicated that it will consider additional funding for community energy projects such as the one planned by Hope Valley Renewables. As a result of all these factors, we have, therefore, set ourselves the task of investigating the feasibility and appetite for medium and large-scale RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION projects (e.g. solar panels on public buildings, large single wind turbines, static and floating solar farms) in the Hope Valley area. We are also exploring the possible benefits of community ownership of such installations.

As it’s clear much of the government funding for energy efficiency upgrading in domestic properties will be allocated to local authorities, we are working hard with other local climate-change organisations to LOBBY local councils, our local MPs, and the Peak Park with the aim of persuading them to commit to setting up and funding long-term schemes for wide-scale retrofitting both in owned and rented properties.