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Meeting of the Community Sustainable Energy Group - January 2012


Community Sustainable Energy Group


Notes from meeting 19th January 2012, 10:00- 12:30


Room 4, Dorford Centre, Dorchester



Paul McIntosh (da21) - Chair

Pete West (Dorset CC) – Secretary

Collette Drayson (Purbeck Environmental Action Team (PEAT) / Transition Purbeck)

Colin Somers (Marshwood Vale Energy Group)

Ali Cameron (Marshwood Vale Energy Group)

Tim Evans (Transition Sturminster)

Theresa McManus (Dorset Energy Efficiency Advice Centre- DEAC)

Richard Toft (Bridport RE Group)

John Tomblin (Weymouth Energy Efficiency Advice Centre)

Sally Cooke (Transition Town Dorchester)

Jon Bird (Dorset CC)

Vince Adams (Transition Sturminster)

Susan Anders (da21)

Judy Edwards (Transition Town Dorchester)



Celia Minoughan (Energy Saving Trust)

Maria Clarke (West Dorset Partnership)

Nigel Engbert (Sherborne Town Partnership)



1. Minutes from the last meeting and matters arising


The minutes were agreed as an accurate record. All actions have been completed. Pete West reported he has contacted Robin Wiltshire from the Building Research Establishment to set up a meeting with the Poole Tidal Energy Partnership to discuss potential co-operation on the sea water heat pump project.


2. Project and funding updates:

i) Bids to Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) fund in Dorset (Transition Town Dorchester, DEAC, WEAC, and BREG)


Theresa McManus reported that the DEAC/ Poole Tidal Energy Partnership LEAF funding bid submitted in December has not been successful but the group intend to re-submit a revised bid in the second round by 23rd January.


Judy Edwards mentioned that Transition Town Dorchester has submitted a LEAF funding bid in the 2nd Round with da21 as the accountable body as the Transition Town Group is not legally constituted. The bid includes a survey and report on 4 typical hard to treat properties in Dorchester, a new section of the Sustainable Dorset website to host energy efficiency information for local households including local video case studies, a feasibility study to set up a Dorchester Energy Services Company and several local energy saving roadshows before the 31st March.


Richard Toft informed the group the Bridport Renewable Energy Group (BREG) LEAF funding application submitted in December has been successful. £18,000 has been awarded to purchase and assemble a proprietary micro AD system which will be installed and commissioned using cow manure and comfrey as feedstock. When full the micro AD system cannot be moved therefore the 2nd stage of the project is to build a cheaper mobile biogas plant based on recycled materials such as steel barrels. The mobile version could be used to supply gas for kitchens at events or installed at pubs or restaurants where food waste could be converted into biogas.

Bridport Energy Services Company (BESCo) are developing a number of potential commercially viable renewable energy projects including PV on community buildings, a woodfuel co-operative and an integrated food/ biogas project where gas could be used for food processing or heating greenhouses. They have submitted a first stage funding application to Chalk and Cheese.


ii) Update on European SEAC project (Pete West)


Pete West said details of the SEACS INTERREG funded project are available on the Community Energy section of the Sustainable Dorset website. The project can provide support to 8 community-based energy groups in Dorset, mainly on energy saving activities (e.g. including training, sharing information and free loan of 60 electricity use monitors). The project will run for 2 years from autumn 2011- autumn 2013. So far 5 community groups have joined the project (Transition Town Dorchester, Langton Matravers Parish Council, Weymouth Energy Advice Centre, Dorchester Quakers and Marshwood Energy Group. Activities are due to start in Feb/ March including use of video filming of energy saving in local households and thermal image surveys. A dedicated project website is now live



iii)Communities Living Sustainably (Paul McIntosh / Pete West / Theresa McManus)


Paul McIntosh mentioned that Dorset Community Action is leading a Big Lottery funding bid

“Communities Living Sustainably” in partnership with da21, Dorset County Council, the Dorset Coast Forum and other partners. The bid needs to be submitted by the end of January and is based on developing exemplar sustainable communities in Dorchester and Bridport (eg local food, low carbon lifestyles, energy saving and renewable energy, behavioural change, climate change adaptation, etc.) 30 applications will be shortlisted and invited to submit 2nd stage applications by late June. 10 grants of up to £1m each are available to be spent over a period of 4-5 years.



3. Update on Feed-in Tariff (FiT) lobbying by DCC followed by discussion of implications for Community Energy (Pete West)

Pete West gave a short presentation on the current status of feed-in tariffs for solar PV. In summary, there was a huge surge in domestic PV installations immediately following the government announcement on 31st Oct 2011 of an unexpected 50% reduction in solar PV FITs from 10th December 2011. The tariff reduction implemented 2 weeks before the government’s consultation on the reduction closed was judged by the High Court to be unlawful and is currently subject to an appeal to the Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal tariffs are due to be reduced from 3rd March (e.g. from 43p/ kWh to 21.5p/kWh for installations less than 4kW) The overall result is that any PV investment dependant on borrowing and repayment of capital and interest is likely to be commercially unviable for the foreseeable future unless a project secures additional private sector grant aid in addition to FIT income. As installation costs have reduced by 35% - 40% since FITs were introduced in April 2010 solar PV may still be commercially viable for community projects in cases where the capital investment is written off, i.e. local investors are willing to purchase income-only shares at a relatively low return. The capital investment in community projects is likely to be eligible for tax relief. There are currently 2 consultations on Feed-in tariffs including the proposed degression from Oct 2012 onwards and how community renewable energy projects should be treated. The consultations close in early April :


ACTION  A pdf copy of the solar PV FITs presentation to be circulated with the minutes.


4. Communications: Update on the Energize Dorset project (Theresa / Vince)


Vince Adams and Theresa McManus updated on the Energise Dorset website. Vince said the website is currently being built and an early version may be launched in March at

The target audience is 20-45 year olds and the website will be focussed on lifestyle. It will provide a gateway to information on renewable energy technologies and contact details of local installers. The website will have a facility for supporters to sign up to receive news updates, etc. The project aims to set up a panel of specialist renewable energy advisors working on a voluntary basis. The project has received sponsorship from Nissan and a car dealership in Wincanton who are selling electric cars.

Vince Adams said that once the website is live it will be very useful if al members of the Community Sustainable Energy Group can help to promote it. Vince requested members to e mail him details of their press contacts.


5. Round Table Update 


Sally Cooke said she is supporting an East Dorset Heritage Trust Open Homes event between 15th-30th September. It has been agreed that eco homes can be included in the event.


Ali Cameron mentioned that he will be filming some energy saving hints and tips from Dorchester households in March as part of the SEACS project. The Marshwood Energy Group is working with a local farmer Ross Dickinson to assist his project managing hedgerows to produce logs for the local market. He currently is storing logs from his own hedgerows in a barn on his farm. He has estimated 17 homes can be heated from hedgerow management on his own farm.


Collette Drayson mentioned that a member of PEAT Will Bond has installed a woodchip boiler heating his own country house and 14 cottages via a small district heating network. His company Alaska Environmental is currently appealing the East Stoke wind farm planning application for 4 wind turbines totalling 9.2 MW.

PEAT is also interested in working with West Dorset DC on a potential off-grid new low carbon housing development. The group are planning to visit the Threshold Centre co-housing development near Gillingham.


John Tomblin mentioned that the Weymouth Energy Advice Centre (WEAC) are planning to move their advice service to the Co-op shop in Littlemoor and are currently seeking more volunteers.


Tim Evans informed the group that a local sustainable energy network has been established, Stur Valley Energy. They are identifying an “energy champion” street, looking at opportunities for village scale biomass district heating and looking again at solar PV on Sturminster Newton High School following the cancellation of Dorset County Council’s solar PV programme on schools which is commercially unviable at the reduced FIT rates based on borrowing and repayment of capital and interest.


ACTION: Pete West to put Tim Evans in touch with Andrew Lawton, an ex-Arup employee living in East Dorset and currently looking for pilot village scale biomass district heating sites. Pete West also to circulate a copy of Andrew Lawton’s proposal for biomass district heating.


6. Update of Terms of Reference


It was agreed to postpone the update to the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Community Sustainable Energy Group terms of reference to the next meeting.


7. Update on the B, D &P Renewable Energy Strategy – Pete West


Theresa McManus has co-ordinated a response to the Renewable Energy Strategy  on behalf of the Community Sustainable Energy Group, in particular flagging up the unsustainability of imported biomass and biofuels, the need to consider energy efficiency in parallel to renewable energy and a need for a community energy support officer . Pete West said the final strategy for endorsement will be circulated in March and will include an aspirational target of 15 % of energy consumption in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole from renewable energy by 2020. It has been assumed that half of this target will be achieved from renewable energy developments delivered by central government at the national level, such as offshore wind energy and imported biomass and biofuels for transport. The target will be for 7.5% of energy demand to be met from renewable energy in Dorset, particularly through schemes with local benefits in line with the overall aims of the Renewable Energy Strategy. This aspirational target represents a 7-fold increase in current levels of renewable energy deployment over the next 9 years. The final version of the Strategy and supporting documents such as the public opinion survey and Regen SW renewable energy resource assessment will be placed on the Dorset for You website.


8. Any other business and date of next meeting


It was agreed to hold 4 meetings of the Community Sustainable Energy Group per year. A date for the next meeting will be circulated several weeks in advance. Paul McIntosh will circulate details when finalised.