Whittington and Fisherwick
‘How We Can Save the Planet’, Mayer Hillman; ‘How to Live a Low Carbon Life’, Chris Goodall; ‘Six Degrees’ Mark Lynas; ‘Rough Guide to Climate Change’, Robert Henson
Whittington and Fisherwick, small rural villages near Litchfield in Staffordshire, have a combined population of 3000. Prior to launching as a low carbon community, the villagers had been involved in a specific local environmental campaign. Key campaigners suggested that a local group could be set up to deal with broader environmental issues, and in May 2007, an informal meeting led a hesitant agreement for a focus on climate change. The initial core was just three members, but after one month, and one article in a local newsletter, this number grew to nine. The stated aim is ‘on a journey to a low carbon future’. Now the delivery team is split into 5 teams: a core group, then groups focusing on events, communications, energy and wildlife. Each meets monthly.
What are they doing?
The initial group got active straight away; putting an article in the local newsletter article, distributed to the entire parish council to advertise a public meeting with Going Carbon Neutral Ashton Hayes Founder Garry Charnock. The group focused on key agency invites, including the parish council leading to an audience of almost 20. Following this success, the group met with Marches Energy Agency to advise them on the best way forward. The advice was simple – focus, don’t try to do everything at once and operate on a staged approach, starting small. The group found £28,000 funding and went on to launch their ‘Banish the Incandescent Light Bulb’ campaign. Using a stall at a local fair, they borrowed a demonstration ‘LightBulb Library’ at which the public were able to place orders. Following this came the Home Energy Health Checks (120 financed, with 90 undertaken to date) – although the group feels it has required a surprising amount of effort to get them taken up by the local community. These have been carried out with a remit to understand other areas of lifestyle direct energy emissions areas such as travel. This will be extremely useful to the group as it now has an accurate understanding of its community’s energy breakdown which will inform on their next steps activity.
In January 2008, Mark Lynas & Penny Poiser launched the group with an attendance of 150 people including key individuals. This launch was followed by a Big Green Fair, which, through heavy advertisement, attracted 2000 people, and facilitated the sign up of 120 new members.
Endorsement by key agencies is still variable, However the group plans to maintain a high community profile through instigating one informal event every month, as well as adding into other local activities. So far, the group feels it has made some type of change within one third of its community.
The next step focuses on insulation, using a show case home to demonstrate cost savings. As the entire village stock has no cavity wall insulation, it is hoped that an estate by estate bulk buy scheme can be initiated with the right insulation installation partner. Following on the heels of this will be an investigation into some form of locally generated power.
Whittington and Fisherwick Top Tip
Focus, be eye catching, and start with the low hanging fruit to hook people in.
Web address: www.wfeg.org.uk