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Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network says town 'can be carbon neutral'

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: September 15, 2010

Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network says town 'can be carbon neutral'
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AMBITIOUS plans to make Wadebridge a carbon neutral town have been revealed.

The newly-formed Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) wants the town to take the lead in the adoption of renewable energy.

As a first step, the group wants to install 1 MW peak capacity of solar panels, which would produce about ten per cent of the town's domestic electric consumption.

The panels would sit on town roof tops, and the group says enough roof space has already been identified to make sure that the panels will be well sited and mainly out of sight.

Most of the roof owners who have been approached have given agreement in principle.

Other technologies, including tidal power from the River Camel and the adoption of electric vehicles, are also being explored.

WREN plans to use all profits from energy generation and from the Feed in Tariff, a government-backed measure to encourage people produce renewable electricity, for community schemes.

Group member Shayne House said: "It's great that we can do the right thing for the environment and also bring substantial money and employment into the town."

Suggestions of good causes have included reducing fuel poverty, and investing in facilities and opportunities for younger people. The WREN Steering Group consists of residents, councillors from Cornwall Council and Wadebridge Town Council, with representatives of the Wadebridge Chamber of Commerce.

The group is working on an inventory of existing renewable capacity. Jerry Clark, a member of the WREN Steering Group, and an expert in the field, said: "We can only identify about 25kW capacity of renewable energy generation around the town at the moment. As these plans develop that figure will increase rapidly."

WREN is attracting notice and support from further afield.

Mike Grigg, director of the Cornwall Sustainable Buildings Trust, said: "These plans are just what Cornwall needs.

"There is too much talk and not enough action in the renewable energy field.

"Wadebridge could become the pace-setter, and there are many people in the field who want to help make sure that happens." Wadebridge town and Cornwall councillor Scott Mann said: "Wadebridge would be foolish, in my opinion not to be looking to tap into these nationally lucrative tariffs.

"The work carried out thus far is to be applauded.

"There is, however, a wider question about whether we should be having to pay for more expensive energy, with these nose bleed tariffs at a time when many people are on the breadline."

Wadebridge Chamber of Commerce vice-chairman Dominic Walford added: "The concept of a carbon neutral town is a great idea and we are keen to look at how the town can work towards this."

WREN convener, Stephen Frankel added: "The response to these plans has been great, but they will only succeed if interest comes from across the community.

"So if you have knowledge or an interest in this area, please get in touch via the website, www.wren.uk.com, or e-mail energy@wren.uk.com"

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