How Green is Your Town?

The dire warnings that we are receiving from the major institutions all around the world about the deteriorating state of our planet due to the demands we place upon it, appear to be shovelled under the carpet each time the elections come around. So now that they are out of the way, perhaps this is the time to reflect upon what we might do to try to ensure a habitable planet for our children and grandchildren. Now we have the technology to develop a clean green future and to live within our means, but is there the will to do so? What is Hornsea doing to secure a sustainable future?

Hornsea School- The Greenest in the East Riding

The good news is that our Secondary School is leading the way. It became a ‘Humber Renewables Awards’ Winner in 2013 by being the first school in the area to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Thanks to a loan of £422,000 from East Riding Council, three biomass boilers were installed which are estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 370 tonnes per year and fuel and heating costs by £30,000 per year. As appears to be the case with most renewable energy projects, the boilers sparked some controversy due to their visual impact, but its proponents are confident that the economic benefits will far outweigh any inconveniences.

The school has also refurbished its buildings to make them more energy efficient and is very conscientious about reducing paper usage, whilst running schemes to recycle plastics, textiles and kitchen waste. It uses energy efficient photocopiers, PC’s and servers which, along with the help of staff and students, have helped the school achieve energy consumption reductions each year in all areas of the school.  Finally, new water saving technologies have reduced water consumption by 2128 cubic meters in the last two years.  The next generation is being well versed in the importance of caring for our environment.

Now it is up to the rest of the town to follow suit. There are a number of incentives to encourage individual house owners to save money whilst making their homes more environmentally friendly, so if you are one of those home owners it is well worth checking out which options may benefit you. You can find all the details about the Government’s Green Deal scheme on https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/overview

Community Owned Energy

With the great community spirit that exists in Hornsea, the opportunity also exists for us to come together to ensure a clean and secure energy future. Other towns in the UK are already running community owned renewable energy schemes. Residents have joined forces to buy shares in solar panels or other renewables, to power their town.

Perhaps an ideal location in Hornsea would be our Floral Hall. The huge losses that were being sustained under the East Riding Council stewardship, were partly due to the antiquated boiler system and lack of insulation in the hall, which resulted in energy bills of £30,000 per year. This situation is still to be resolved and, although the directors are searching hard to find solutions they have so far found the costs of the major alterations required, to be prohibitive.

However, the government is offering grants of up to £20,000 for initial feasibility assessments and up to £130,000 in loans for community energy projects (see www.gov.uk/urban-community-energy-fund). The Floral Hall ticks all the right boxes for eligibility. We could potentially create for ourselves, the greenest cultural events centre in the region which would not only solve the heating problem but also bring prestige and attract visitors from far and wide. If people can be found with the capacity to spearhead such a scheme this paper would be only too happy to support it by acting as a vehicle for dissemination of information and in rallying the town’s support. Does anyone out there feel up to the task?

As well as energy saving and provision, there are of course, a whole host of other ways to live more lightly on the earth, such as clean transport, local food and greening of spare land.  We would be delighted to hear of and report on initiatives in these areas. Let’s follow the lead of our school and become the greenest town in the East Riding!

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