Working together to tackle climate change
The Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project is a community-led initiative that is aimed at making our village the first carbon neutral community in England.
The journey towards our low carbon lifestyle began in November 2005 when the Parish Council voted to adopt a proposal by a long-term resident (Garry Charnock) that the village should try to become carbon neutral.
The project's official launch (above) was in Ashton Hayes Primary School on 26th January 2006 on a bitterly cold night. Nevertheless, around 400 people (75% of village adults) came to the meeting to show support and embark on behavioural changes to reduce their personal carbon footprint.
The project has drawn substantial support from local businesses and councils and from Professor Roy Alexander and his team from the University of Chester. Each summer, university students carry our door-to-door surveys asking residents questions about their lifestyle - domestic energy use, travel, holidays etc. Using this data, they compute their domestic footprint and that of the entire village. Residents are also giving feedback about the survey and guidance on what further actions they can take to cut their carbon emissions.
Three surveys have been carried our since the launch in 2006 and these reveal that the community has managed to cut its carbon emissions by 23% through behavioural changes such as switching off appliances and changing to low energy light bulbs. Some people have cut the costs of their energy bills 50% by focusing on improved insulation and careful energy use (See Our Stories).
The project has not only attracted widespread support from the local community but from like-minded communities and the world’s media. The village has now linked with over communities around the globe and featured has in the 2007 Live Earth concert, Financial Times magazine and been highlighted as an example of best practice by the Rural Advocate and the Government’s Act on CO2 campaign.
In 2007 the project won the IVCA Clarion Award for Climate Change Communications and the Energy Institute’s ‘Community Initiative Award’. Our website attracts about 2000 users a month who download videos and data given out freely by the project. In 2009, the project was selected to lead Zerofootprint’s ‘Villages without borders project’ that uses advanced web 2.0 software tools to help communities record, measure and share their carbon emission data. The software also gives guidance on ways of lowering a community’s carbon footprint. [Zerofootprint is an award-winning Canadian not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping communities go green.] The University of Chester is also financing and supporting this initiative.
In 2010 Ashton Hayes was selected as one of the 22 communities to receive funding under DECC's Low Carbon Communities Challenge. With our grant of £400,000 we have built a low carbon sports pavilion complete with Solar PV array that helps to power our community owned electric vehicle (Nissan Leaf). We have also funded PV arrays for low carbon school classrooms.
We are currently looking at new ways to generate income for our community through renewable energy.
Please feel free to use information from our website and share ideas and best practice with others.