Quarterly Newsletter, Autumn 2022
Message from Chair A series of unfortunate events
Since our previous communique back in July we’ve witnessed a series of unprecedented events. Four Chancellors, three home secretaries, three Prime Ministers and two monarchs all in the last four months. By the time you receive this we may have had five Chancellors and four home secretaries if the new PM makes changes. Those of us who are committed to tackling the climate emergency - including our new King, Charles, will no doubt have been perturbed by our past PM Liz Truss’s early decision making which has seen fresh licenses granted for North Sea oil and gas extraction, an end to the ban on fracking, and suggestions that solar is harmful to UK agriculture. We can only hope the new administration reverses these policies. Our own Wiltshire Wildlife Trust recently voiced its concerns about the new governments’ apparent attitude towards nature and the environment, highlighting that recent policy changes pose serious threats to nature, climate, and food security. Every day there seems to be a new unwelcome approach, whether banning solar on agricultural land or the proposed new levies to inhibit the growth of renewables. Some might say that if the short-sighted approach adopted at Number 10 by its previous incumbent is adopted by the new PM then it means that vital legal protections for wildlife are still at risk, fossil fuel extraction is being favoured over renewables, and farmers blocked from delivering both energy and food security for the nation. With COP27 and COP15 taking place soon, I am concerned about this government’s direction of travel. It seems to me that staggeringly little progress has been made since Glasgow played host to the conference in 2021 – if anything, it could be argued that we are further away from achieving our net zero ambitions than ever before. However, while those at the top may be conflicted and confused over their Climate change policies, we certainly are not. During our annual general meeting I took the opportunity to reaffirm our board’s intention to increase investment in initiatives which will have a tangible impact on WWCE’s drive to reduce carbon and boost wildlife across Wiltshire.
This year, our community energy enterprise has already supplied the equivalent of 2,000 homes with renewable power and we are committed to increasing that number by pursuing new solar projects like those at Petersfinger and Silverwood. Not only that, but we want to utilise the expertise we have within our ranks to provide practical help for people struggling with the prospect of spiralling bills this winter. To that end, I have been working closely with our carbon reduction champion, Jess Thimbleby on a new energy advice service which we hope to launch before the year is out. We are doing our bit - I only hope the new government starts playing its’ part by not attacking those working to save the planet…
Julian Barlow WWCE Chair
Performance Overview A stellar summer for WWCE's solar farms
WWCE's solar parks had a super summer, performing well overall across the July to September quarter with generation exceeding P50 projections by over 5%. August was a stand-out month for irradiance, surpassing combined projections by more than 18%, while July also came in just ahead. The two helped to compensate for a slightly underwhelming September. In total, the quarterly irradiance figure exceeded projections for 4.20%. All in all, a great season for solar!
Keeping Wiltshire warm this winter WWCE develops energy efficiency advice programme to support Wiltshire residents
Our Carbon Reduction Champion has been busy this summer, creating a new energy efficiency project to help the people of Wiltshire reduce their household carbon emissions and save money on spiralling energy bills. The ‘Keeping Warm This Winter’ initiative is a brand-new community engagement venture for WWCE, designed to deliver targeted advice to people likely to be struggling with fuel costs this winter. The scheme will initially focus on the urban Wiltshire community of Melksham, as well as the more rural area of Purton, not far from our Braydon Manor site. Jessica will be linking up with local community groups and organisations to reach people who often aren’t online, giving tips and advice on how to reduce carbon emissions by becoming more energy efficient and, ultimately, save money. She’ll also be on hand to assist with referrals for further support where needed, signposting people who may be eligible for grants to allow them to install longer-term energy efficiency measures, including loft and cavity wall insulation or a more efficient boiler. With the recent increase in the energy price cap, there’s never been more call for community groups like WWCE to share their expertise. We can’t wait to get this new scheme off the ground…
Community Fund News Bumper year for WWCE Community Fund applications
As awareness of the Community Fund grows, thanks in part to increased press coverage and community outreach, the panel has received more applications from Wiltshire voluntary and community groups in 2022 than in any other year so far - and there’s still another round of funding to go! The WWCE Community Fund welcomes applications for projects across Wiltshire which meet the criteria to support wildlife conservation, mitigate climate change, reduce carbon emissions, or reduce fuel poverty. In the most recent round of funding Shaw Ridge Primary School PTA was successful in securing a grant to be help increase biodiversity in its ‘Unity Eco Garden’ through increased surveying and monitoring of wildlife activity. We can’t wait to see the funds in action! A new face for WWCE's charitable arm Welcoming Ged Brockett to the Community Fund panel
With the Community Fund receiving more applications than ever, we are delighted to welcome Ged Brockett to the panel. Ged is a director at local architecture and professional services firm Complete Oak Home, specialising in oak-framed buildings. She’s also a long-time member of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and a keen beekeeper. She’s already proving to be an invaluable part of the team and we look forward to doing great work together. If you were with us for the recent AGM, you’ll be aware that the panel is looking to expand further still, with chair of the panel Jon Bateman appealing for a new WWCE member to join the line-up. The Panel holds up to four meetings a year to award grants from the Fund, so if you are interested in joining the team, please contact Jessica Thimbleby at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07568 231015 AGM A roundup from this year’s Annual General Meeting Thanks to those of you who were able to attend this year’s AGM which was held on September 27th. The meeting afforded us an opportunity to reflect on just how far we’ve come this year and to set our intentions for the year ahead. Russell Abbott, Jessica Thimbleby, Jon Bateman, and Rob Gillies gave fulsome accounts of activity relating to communications, the community fund, and our ecological plans, while Communities for Renewables (CfR) kept us abreast of progress with the proposed Petersfinger project and discussions around terms for the provision of solar at Silverwood School. Angela Wright gave a very positive summary of WWCE’s financial outlook, anticipating a healthy end to the current fiscal year and confirming by unanimous vote, the intention to pay members 5.5% interest before Christmas. If you have any further questions about WWCE, please always feel free to contact us at email@example.com. Join our online community by following us on LinkedIn here. You can also now keep up to date with WWCE on Facebook, follow us here.