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).


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.


Visit by our European friends

Fabian Brökelmann from Amersfoort in The Netherlands is fact finding about our sustainability efforts in Ashton Hayes this week.  Fabian is involved in Research for the Dutch 'Raad voor het Openbaar Bestuur' (an advisory council/board on public government/authorities - issues for the Dutch Government) about the facilities and conditions for communities to accept responsibilities instead of the authorities. He is particularly keen on how communities embark and succeed in 'self determination'. Thanks to all the residents who have spared time to talk to Fabian. Ashton Hayes is a member of the Communities of Sustainable Europe, which is how Fabian heard about us.


AHCE lucky winners @ picnic in the park

We are delighted to sign up a substantial number of new members to the Ashton Hayes Community Energy Company at the Picnic in the Park - and those that joined us were entered into a prize draw for LED energy saving light bulbs. The lucky winners who will cut their energy use are Jacqui and Rick Malpas and David Lamb and Lesley Rickards.


University says Earth Hour a success

University of Chester students say the March 23rd Earth Hour experiment in the village succeeded in cutting energy use. We are thankful to Scottish Power Energy Networks for helping us to monitor village energy use in great detail during the Earth Hour.

Here are some comments from two excellent reports which can be downloaded here and here.

"Earth Hour is a global event which is run by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) every year. It aims to encourage governments, businesses and people to switch off their lights at the same day between 8.30 and 9.30 pm every year. Earth Hour is used to help promote sustainable issues amongst the general public and hopes to promote sustainable thinking. It is the world’s largest mass participation event in history with over 7000 cities in over 7 continents taking part.

Overall it would seem that the Ashton Hayes campaign was a success, with energy consumption rates dropping when Earth Hour began and then raising rapidly after the hour had finished. Although the project was focused on the level of engagement in the village and less about the actual energy saved, it is still important to note that the village will have saved a significant amount of energy over the short time period and most notably if this could be replicated throughout the UK then during Earth Hour it is assumed a great deal of energy and carbon would be saved.

Although the village of Ashton Hayes is already extremely knowledgeable about sustainable thinking, (this was evident in the knowledge of the school children) and therefore this type of project stood a greater chance of succeeding here than anywhere else, it is important to note that if the engagement rates were not successful in this village, then it is highly doubtful that it would work elsewhere."

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