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.