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Swindon Climate Action Network is calling for more wind and solar farms
MORE locally owned wind and solar farms are needed to help boost Swindon’s “green economy,” according to local environmentalists.
Work should also be stepped-up to encourage people to economise with their use of energy, both at home and at work, to offset dwindling resources as well as cut costs, it was agreed.
Key green issues facing Swindon in future were discussed at a meeting staged by the Swindon Climate Action Network (SCAN.) About 40 people attended a Question Time-style session at the Pilgrim Centre last weekend to discuss how the town cantackle future environmental challenges.
A panel of experts was on-hand to answer questions. It included South Swindon MP Robert Buckland; Swindon cabinet member for sustainability Dale Heenan ; South West Green Party candidate for next year’s Euro elections Molly Scott-Cato and Director of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Dr Gary Mantle.
Ms Scott-Cato defined the green economy as “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.
The panel agreed on the importance of cutting down energy costs by reducing energy waste in homes and businesses – the use of water as well as gas and electricity.
However Councillor Heenan spoke about the difficulty of getting people who would benefit most – such as hard-up families – to take action.
It was also agreed that community energy projects – wind and solar farms – should be important to Swindon’s green economy.
They would be owned by local people – offered to buy shares in the operation – with profits used for community benefit. They would also create local jobs.
Dr Mantle said the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust had recently launched a solar farm near Cricklade entirely owned by local shareholders. He said they were now looking to set up similar schemes.
The Westmill wind and solar farms, near the Swindon/ Oxfordshire border was also hailed as an example.
Ms Scott-Cato said people should look to Germany for inspiration where a boom in renewable energy was being achieved through large numbers of locally-owned installations.
One of the event organisers ,Adrian Read, said there had been agreement that more people should be involved and be aware of economising, but that it was difficult to get the message across to the people who needed it most.
He said: “There was much support for local initiatives – local energy generation owned by local people, supplying local people.
“The drawbacks of the installation on the environment could be balanced by the benefits of local jobs and income for the local community.” Group secretary Edward Glennie said he was delighted at the range of ideas discussed.
He said: “SCAN will certainly be pleased to engage with politicians and other groups to encourage a green economy in Swindon.”
SCAN is a politically independent group which works to inform about the environment.
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