This event was hosted by Tideswell & District Environment Group, with environmental and community groups across Derbyshire invited to come together to learn about the United for Warm Homes campaign and hear more about what is already happening locally.
TDEG has signed up to the Friends of the Earth ‘United for Warm Homes’ campaign already and is hoping other groups do the same. The various speakers’ presentations are summarised below, with links to their full presentations where available.
RICHARD DYER – Friends of the Earth, East Midlands Campaign Organiser
Richard set out the context for this campaign. Energy bills have almost doubled in the last year, even with government help. Those on low incomes and with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. Homes in the UK are the worst insulated in Europe, and lose heat three times as fas as the best insulated homes, eg in Germany. 80% of UK homes have gas heating.
The FoE campaign is asking for:
- urgent additional financial support from the Government (i.e. more than has already been promised);
- a national insulation programme, carried out through local authorities, starting with the most vulnerable as the priority;
- permanent fixes to our failed energy system, for example by moving to electric heating, installing heat pumps, increasing UK production of renewable energy so that we have our own supplies.
Richard outlined the steps a campaign could take:
- Mapping your community, and making connections with others.
- Organising an initial event to launch the campaign, which will bring people together.
- Build local support, through good communication and making the campaign visible to local politicians, and engaging people in activities.
- Lobbying MPs, to increase pressure as we move towards the General Election, which at the moment is scheduled to happen in two years’ time.
So far 65 groups have signed up to the United for Warm Homes campaign, including TDEG. This means we will have other groups to work with at key moments, such as with online petitions, and on days of action. The first such day is organised for December 3rd. There is support at https://unitedforwarmhomes.uk, and small grants of up to £500 are available. Resources, training, peer support and one-to-one guidance from a regional/national advisor are available.
Richard’s full presentation can be viewed here.
SHEELAGH – Tideswell & District Environment Group
Sheelagh described the anti-fracking campaign she was involved in in Misson in Nottinghamshire. She spoke emphatically and inspiringly about how a very small community can start from being completely new to campaigning, to go on to win their campaign. She said you have to solve the root cause, and it is repetitive work – e.g. not just approaching the nearest parish council, but all the parish councils in the area.
An understanding of the facts is essential to effective communication at all levels. There are many ways to get your voice heard by decision makers.
BILL – Tideswell & District Environment Group
Bill outlined the challenges facing householders in Tideswell when trying to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Properties are difficult to insulate, the village is at an altitude of 1000ft and 10% households use inefficient fuels such as LPG or oil, leading to higher than average CO2 emissions per household.
Nationally, Government is focussed on assisting people in fuel poverty and trying to balance this with meeting low carbon targets via the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) programme.
Locally, Derbyshire Dales District Council and High Peak Borough Council are delivering retrofit programmes via Midland Net Zero Hub funding. Also, there have been dozens of local energy efficiency schemes over the years but they haven’t always tied in with nationally funded schemes, perhaps this is an opportunity.
Our focus in Tideswell this winter is to try and keep vulnerable people warm and well, possibly through the creation of ‘warm spaces’ in partnership with other community groups; to bid for funds for electric blankets and link with the Fuel Bank Foundation to help people with pre-payment meters.
LINDA WALKER – High Peak Green New Deal
Linda described a pilot project. They felt this involved not just those living in council homes, but also those in privately rented and privately owned homes. They began by going from door to door, to talk to people about their concerns about energy, and invited people to a get together called Whitfield Warm Homes Chat. This grew from an initial meeting of ten people to an enthusiastic group. A postcard to send to the MP carries the message ‘Every family in a warm home fit for the future’.
DANIEL O’CONNELL – Derbyshire Dales DC Community Energy officer
Daniel described a project with the University Hospitals of North Midlands, putting in solar panels. This has resulted in a considerable financial saving. He also talked about Beat the Cold, a campaign to identify those in fuel poverty, and to offer advice and signposting, and low cost interventions.
Similarly, there was a High Peak renewable heat and energy efficiency project, to identify instances of fuel poverty and develop resources to be able to collaborate with local authorities, to reduce impacts. He stressed the need to create a framework of network support.
Daniel’s full presentation can be viewed here.
ZEE ZEE HEINE – Hope Valley Climate Action and Wider Retrofit Group
Zee Zee said that 60% of owner occupied homes in the Hope Valley are in need of retrofit. These only reach D to G on Energy Performance Certificates. The Wider Retrofit Group are campaigning for a One Stop Shop retrofit service, which would take someone from an assessment of their home, through to quotes for the work, the carrying out of the work, and quality approval when it is finished.
She asked that people visit https://www.change.org/OneStopShop to sign a petition to Derbyshire County Council to consider One Stop Retrofit Shops, that would support residents in this way. This petition needs to be signed by 5pm Monday 31st October. She asked that people add their postcode/organisation in the place that they sign, and said that this is not a petition for money.
Zee Zee’s full presentation can be viewed here.
The meeting then split up into three discussion groups, to think about the way forward from here. It was agreed that TDEG should produce some notes of the meeting and circulate to the mailing list.
It was also agreed that Sheelagh should apply for a grant so that we can print and distribute leaflets within our communities.
Sue Barber (Chair TDEG) ended the meeting by very warmly thanking the speakers, and saying that it is up to each one of us to act, given the urgency of this issue.