Set up by community volunteers, the Green Valleys beat off stiff competition from 350 entrants to become Wales’ only finalist in NESTA’s Big Green Challenge climate change competition – submitting grand plans to combat rising fuel costs and tackle climate change in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Just some of their plans include restoring a network of micro hydro schemes in the Brecon Beacons streams and rivers, assisting local people reduce their fuel bills through community-led energy saving initiatives and to develop large scale peat bog restoration work.
The Big Green Challenge competition aims to encourage community-led organisations slash their CO2 emissions and show how local schemes can grow or be replicated across the UK. The competition was launched by NESTA in response to its concerns that Government policy and investment focuses too heavily on science and technology to come up with a miracle, fix all solution to reduce green house gas emissions. A high profile judging panel, including Lord Puttnam, will decide on the overall winner – or winners – in November 2009. Over the next 12 months, the Judges will carefully look at which projects are more successful in radically reducing CO2 emissions, both during the year and in the longer term, as well as the projects that best engage their local communities.
Grenville Ham, who leads the Green Valleys project through a voluntary community organisation called Talybont-on-Usk Energy and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “Reaching the final ten in the Big Green Challenge means we are in a position to invest in further community owned and run hydroelectric installations. If we win we can invest in a range of projects to slash carbon emissions across the region. Local community groups such as the CRiC Centre and Abergavenny and Crickhowell Friends of the Earth have organised local action sessions in the coming weeks and we hope to engage as many people from our local communities as possible.
“So far we’ve set up a series of public meetings that will take place during October and November across the National Park highlighting the different ways local residents can get involved. The more people we have taking part the more likely we are to win the overall prize and drastically reduce our carbon emissions.”
Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government said of the Green Valleys project: “This is a locally based initiative that has the advantage of reaching segments of the population that top-down initiatives often can’t.”
Jonathan Kestenbaum, NESTA’s CEO, said: “We know that local communities have the drive, passion and knowledge to devise innovative responses to climate change. The Green Valleys in the Brecon Beacons is a powerful contender for the £1 million prize.”
For more information about how you can become involved please contact Grenville Ham, Community Development Officer for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01874 620 451