Energy meeting

A community project looking at whether there is a viable alternative form of energy to be drawn on to avoid large bills could be set up in Alford.

Alford resident Bill Slee said wants to find out whether there is sufficient community interest to explore the issue more fully.

Mr Slee, who has lived in Alford for over 20 years, said: “There are several sources of government support which can be drawn on to help us look at the scope for reducing oil bills, better insulating homes and developing renewable energy and heat initiatives.

“We do not want to replicate the good work that is already going on through bodies such as SCARF, but to see whether a wider community specific project would be worth pursuing.

“The two main possible places we could get help are the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund and the LEADER rural development initiative. But in both cases, to take advantage of these funds we need first to constitute a community group.

“The Vale of Alford could be an ideal place for applying to these funds to develop a community project.”

He said the agenda was completely open at this stage, but the kinds of issue people might want to explore included:

* Assessing the potential of the area for wood energy schemes, taking advantage of the Renewable Heat Initiative and possibly the Forest Community Land Scheme.

* Exploring the potential use of feed-in tariffs to support small scale renewable energy projects.

* Estimating the scope for community energy projects and the interest of landowners in participating in any such schemes.

* Exploring whether greater sourcing of local food is possible.

* Learning from communities that have already taken steps in developing projects of this type.

* Providing local advice on energy matters from trusted experts who are not trying to sell a particular product.

Mr Slee said some of the major sources of funding end later in the spring and if Alford wanted to benefit from what they offer there was a need to get things moving.

A meeting is planned for an evening during the week commencing February 21. Mr Slee can be e-mailed at: b.slee@macaulay.ac.uk for more information or to lodge an interest.