Sustainable Wales leads by example
Though a small country, Wales is now held up as an example of how to plan for a more sustainable future. This was the message brought to the October meeting of PSEEG by Jo Horsely, Development Officer for Environment Wales. From a change of approach to early years learning, where very young children were encouraged to relate to and value their environment, to the involvement of the third sector in the decision making process in all aspects of sustainable development, the Welsh Assembly Government has led the way.
Jo then went on to show how a wide range of community groups were making a major impact in their local areas. As examples of this a number of the most successful groups were highlighted. In the Brecon Beacons National Park The Green Valleys Community Interest Company, a not-for-profit local organisation, was enabling and supporting community groups in the sourcing and installing of community owned micro generation projects. In the Beacons with its numerous small streams and steep sided valleys, small scale hydro-electric generation is often the method of choice. Though only established in May 2009, this group was Wales' only finalist in the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Art's Big Green Challenge competition and as such stands to win a share of the one million pound prize.
Hydro power was also evidenced in the not-for-profit community enterprise at Talybont on Usk, where the Talybont on Usk reservoir was used to show how a renewable source of energy could be used for the benefit of the whole community. Though not a community venture the National Trust's waterwheel at Aberdulais Falls also warranted mention as this was the largest waterwheel currently used in Europe to generate electricity.
Another outstanding community energy group was Awel Aman Tawe. This group had been established for ten years. Currently it was planning to develop two 2MW wind turbines in the Upper Amman and Swansea Valleys. All the profits from this scheme, amounting to many thousands of pounds will go into community regeneration. This project was selected as a case study for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 and included in new planning guidance on wind energy published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005.
Jo continued her talk by describing how the residents of the villages of Tregarth and Bethesda in North Wales joined together to purchase a local farm 'Moelyci' and establish it as a centre for the practise and teaching of environmental matters employing significant numbers of the disadvantaged and people with disabilities. Sustainable food production was a feature of some of the community ventures. The Cwm Harry Land Trust near Newtown and the Riverside Community Garden (Allotment) Project based in Cardiff were excellent examples of this.
Of particular interest to the people of Pembrokeshire was Neptune's Army of Rubbish Cleaners; Britain's only group of underwater cleaners. This was a voluntary group of divers with a passion for keeping the underwater environment in Pembrokeshire pristine. Since its inception in 2005 by local diver Dave Kennard and Keep Wales Tidy the group had carried out over forty underwater clean-ups. Everything from shopping trolleys, car batteries, bikes and fishing tackles had been discovered. All items found were recycled whenever possible.
It was a great delight, said Jo, to be associated with so many inspirational groups of volunteers. The Chair thanked Jo for her most interesting and informative talk.
The meeting continued with the Secretary reporting that the Group had now signed up to the 10:10 campaign and members present were urged to encourage others to join. It was also reported that Dulas had now been appointed to undertake the energy survey of South East Pembrokeshire. They would report in due course on the viability of renewable energy projects in the area. The Question Time Event planned for 29th January continues to excite considerable interest. Efforts were being made to contact local schools and colleges to assess their interest in the event.
The visit to the Infinergy windfarm had been a great success and the meeting was informed that the company had recently submitted a planning application for four wind turbines at Wear Point near Milford Haven. This was a brown field site and an ideal location for such a development. Members were encouraged to write letters of support.
The next meeting of the Group will be Thursday 19th November at 7pm at the Regency Hall Saundersfoot when the speaker will be Alex Allison, the Community Regeneration Officer for Pembrokeshire County Council. A cordial welcome is extended to all.
|16th October 2009||Climate Change Challenge for Candidates & Micro-generation with wind turbines|
|2nd October 2009||A Visit to Castle Pill Wind Farm: Quiet blows the wind|
|11th September 2009||Renewable Sustainable Energy: An Energy Survey for South East Pembrokeshire|
|10th July 2009||A talk by Lorraine Dallmeier of Infinergy: Wind Power - Pembrokeshire's Potential|
|12th June 2009||St. Oswald's, Jeffreyston - Pembrokeshire's Beacon of Sustainability|
|24th April 2009||Solar Panels: Three Cheers for Sunny Pembrokeshire|
|13th March 2009||Ashton Hayes Community Energy Reduction & Hot Water From the Sun|
|13th February 2009||Could Pembrokeshire go carbon neutral?|
|14th November 2008||Environment Wales to provide 'Start-Up' Funding for PSEEG|
|17th October 2008||PSEEG to become a Registered Charity|