Our team of volunteers and governance
The success of our project is mainly down to the hard-working band of 30-50 volunteers who regularly offer their skills to benefit the project. We encourage everyone to participate and have adopted a lose hierarchy that suits us well as it empowers people to try out ideas that might help us along our journey. We have also adopted a series of 'big rules' that we all follow in running the project - the most important being that we are 'non-political' and 'non-confrontational'. After all is said and done, we want to live in harmony as a village!
We have discovered a wide range of skills within the community and we try to harness peoples' strengths to suit the project needs. Some of our team enjoy the technical aspects of carbon footprint calculations while others have become specailists in renewable energy. Some help us by providing writing, photographic and film making skills which help to keep all residents informed of our activities and share our journey with the outside world.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the journey has been the number of ideas that have emerged from the community. People suggest remarkable ideas on how we can 'do our bit' to tackle climate change. and we encourage them to have a go by implementing their suggestions and reporting back to the group.
The Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral Project is a sub-group of the Parish Council under who's governance we operate. Each month we give a report of our activities at the Parish Council meeting and our finances are audited each year by the Parish Council auditors. To date we have not used any of the Parish Precept (local taxes) to fund our activities. Instead we have drawn on financial and skills/services support from local business (see Our sponsors) and through grants. In 2006 DEFRA gave use £26,500 under its Tomorrow's Climate, Today's Challenge programme - and this has been used to 'spread the word' to other UK communities. We have also had £1000 from Cheshire Community Council and notice board funding from the local authority.
In 2008/9 The University of Chester, in conjunction with EA Technology and the Parish Council, secured an £86,000 grant from Carbon Connections UK Ltd to examine the potential for a community owned renewable energy power plant and microgrid. This work led to us winning a £400,000 grant from DECC under its Low Carbon Communities Challenge, to fund the development of the microgrid project.
The new charity, Carbon Leapfrog, that provides pro bono professional help to low carbon initiatives, played a key role in helping us to understand the complexities of State Aid issues when applying for such grants.