Now in Association with

Ashton Hayes Community Energy CIC

Located in rural Cheshire, Ashton Hayes is a well knit community of about 1000 people that is aiming to become England's first carbon neutral community. We started our journey in January 2006 and since then we have already cut our carbon dioxide emissions significantly - by working together, sharing ideas and through behavioural change. We now have our community owned renewable energy company.

This website encapsulates our journey towards carbon neutrality and offers free advice and guidance. Please feel free to use anything from our website (we'd like a credit if you can).


Community Energy Strategy recognises Ashton Hayes

On Monday 27 January the Department of Energy & Climate Change will release its long awaited Community Energy Strategy (CES). This document has been put together with advice and comment from many practitioners in community energy across the UK, including Ashton Hayes. Garry Charnock, instigator of the Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project, is a member of the Community Energy Contact Group which meets every month in London to give informal comment to DECC teams and Ministers responsible for developing the CES.

It is hoped that this document will result in a step change in the uptake of community energy initiatives and that many villages will follow the lead of places like Ashton Hayes in reducing their energy consumption and setting up a community energy company and other social enterprises. We are pleased that the 8 years of pioneering effort by the Ashton Hayes community is highlighted by DECC.

The CES will be available for download on Monday 27 January after 10am. We will provide a link to the CES from this website once the embargo is lifted.




Project review for the New Year

January 26, 2014 will mark the eighth year of the Going Carbon Neutral Project and we thought it might be a good idea to reflect on the achievements of the village over this exciting period.

Many of you will remember the Parish Council’s launch event at the school that drew a crowd of 400 adults and was broadcast to 12 million people on the BBC World Service. Our ambition to try to become England’s first carbon-neutral village was well supported by residents and local businesses and the University of Chester, which agreed to monitor our progress every year.

The theme for the first few years was to see if we could reduce our carbon footprint through behaviour change – switching things off etc. This resulted in us cutting our carbon emissions by 20% in the first year – a remarkable achievement that many communities have tried to emulate. Our grass roots actions gained the support of the then Cheshire County Council that supported our efforts by building the footpath to Mouldsworth railway station. Since then there has been a four-fold increase in the use of the train.

Our pioneering work caught the attention of the world’s media and we had a string of visits from TV and radio crews from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. We found it hard to believe that the Financial Times carried a 5-page feature on us in its April 2007 magazine, with a readership of over a million people worldwide

Steve Holland, a keen filmmaker, recorded our progress on his first film, Our Footprint, Our Journey that captured the willingness of residents to participate in the project. Steve went on to win the prestigious 2007 IVCA Climate Change Award for his film, beating European-wide competition and even the BBC! Since the he has made 5 films which can be see on the Going Carbon Neutral website.

A few highlights: Top: Steve Holland with his IVCA Clarion award. Middle: Fabian Brökelmann from Amersfoort in The Netherlands arrives to carry out fact finding about our sustainability efforts and talks to Andrew Lewis. Bottom: the recent visit by Kudo Shogo from Tokyo University, talking to Kate Harrison.

Our website continues to reach far and wide and the user numbers range from 1400-3000 a month. Many enjoy reading the 40-page diary of activities over the past eight years and the London School of Economics is currently working with the University of Chester, analysing this unique record.

There have been any exciting times but Barry Cooney, the Golden Lion publican had the biggest surprise when he was interviewed by Graham Norton at the Live Earth rock concert at Wembley in 2007. Other celebrities have also been to the village but we have careful not to let politicians hijack our efforts for political gain. We can claim to have ‘educated’ MPs such as StevenO’Brien, Claire Short, Hilary Benn and Natalie Bennett. More recently we have been included in the 2014 DECC Community Energy Strategy.

To date we have cut our carbon footprint by around 23%, according to the University of Chester. Now we are generating energy from renewables such as the PV panels on the recreation field pavilion and school. Our aim for 2014 is to put more panels on social housing.


Government report highlights our Snow Angels

Public Health England has issued its evaluation report on Warm Homes Healthy People Fund for 2012/13 in which the excellent work of Ashton Hayes features as a case study (number 15 on page 29). The Fund aims to cut deaths related to cold weather that currently run at 24,000 per year.

Read the full report and the Ashton Hayes case study,


Can we cope in a crisis? Testing our resilience as a community

What would happen if we had to cope with a major weather event or other incident that stretched our emergency services? Could we help each other for a while until professional support arrived? This is scenario that a group of volunteers (in conjunction with the Parish Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council) have been investigating for a year or more. The result is a draft Community Emergency Plan that identifies village groups and resources that that we could call on in an emergency. On 21 November we shall be testing the robustness of our plan by using a tabletop training exercise with the help of the Fire Service, Police, NHS and Snow Angels and the Joint Cheshire Emergency Planning Team.

We believe that other groups could play a key role in helping in a crisis and you are invited to attend and participate in the exercise. It should be interesting and fun

See full notice of event here.


SPEN releases film on YouTube

SP Energy Networks, the Network Operator that owns the electricity distribution system in the village, has made a short film that highlights two years of research in understanding our energy use as a community. Supported by Ofgem, SPEN has installed power-monitoring systems in four quadrants of the village and now understands how the community electricity use changes every few minutes. This data has been invaluable in helping SPEN understand the implications and demands that devices such as PV Panels and Electric Cars place on networks. It also helped the Carbon Neutral Project see the dramatic drop in power use during Earth Hour earlier this year. The research is being shared as Open Source with other Network Operators. SPEN has made a donation to AHCE Company for its help in making the movie, which was produced by Monty Wates. If you would like to view the film please visit this YouTube link

or visit the SPE or Going Carbon Neutral websites

The Going Carbon Neutral Project, through the Ashton Hayes Community Energy Company (AHCE – a social enterprise), is now looking at further opportunities to install PV panels and earn revenue for the village. We shall be discussing ideas at our AGM later this year.

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