More than 60 people attended the launch of Low Carbon Leighton Linslade at the town’s All Saints Church.
The September 22 event featured speakers from the RSPB on the harm that climate change is already doing to wildlife and the need for an urgent transformation of our energy supply, and also from Tring Community Energy on their local practical experience of setting up a community energy cooperative.
Inspired by the speakers and following an enthusiastic discussion people signed up to start a community energy scheme for Leighton Buzzard with a first meeting ( all welcome) of the Energy Action Group on November 2 (7.45pm) at The Friends Meeting House in North Street.
It was also announced that Andrew Selous MP had just agreed to chair a public meeting on November 26 at 10am in Leighton Buzzard on a Low Carbon Future, including a national speaker on energy storage and changes to the grid.
As well as this, a Facebook page ‘Community Energy Leighton Linslade’ was set up and there is also some information on www.southbedsfoe.co.uk. LB First are setting up a programme for businesses and residents to get completely independent advice on the most cost effective way of both cutting energy bills and saving carbon emissions.
Campaigns for cycling, buses and local food with supporting the Farmers Market were announced and people were urged to take immediate action by writing to their MP and councillors stressing the urgency of acting on climate change and also to support the application for the Checkley Wood wind turbine at Heath and Reach.
Esther Clarke of Leighton Linslade Ecology Group said: “It was fantastic to have such a good turnout for this meeting and for so many of those who came to sign up to help us move things forward was very positive.
“Jan Sisson’s talk about the Tring Community Energy project was really useful and inspiring and I am very excited that we are really starting something big here which will bring huge benefits to everyone in the local area.”
Alice Collier and Melanie Coath from RSPB explained how man-made climate change is already harming wildlife with the increase in extreme rainfall and flooding etc. Warmer waters in the ocean have caused a steep decline sandeels leading to 70% decline in Kittiwakes.
Although 195 countries in Paris last year pledged to limit emissions to stop the global temperature rising above the top limit of 2 degrees to avoid catastrophic climate change, these pledges even if implemented would still create 2.4 -2.7 degrees of warming.
So the RSPB undertook a big research and mapping project which showed that it is possible to meet the UK’s climate change targets in harmony with nature, using high levels of renewable energy including onshore wind and solar, massive strides in demand reduction, energy storage, grid development and new technologies such as floating offshore wind.
The RSPB is cutting its own emissions with a new wind turbine at its headquarters in Sandy and solar panels on its buildings and urging people to contact their MP about climate change
Jan Sisson spoke about Tring Community Energy (Trice) which is part of Tring in Transition which started seven years ago and have 250 members including a food growing group (community orchard and allotments).
The Transition Towns Movement which started in Totness is aimed at communities achieving sustainability and becoming better places in which to live.
The Tring group started up by talking to people about how they could decrease energy consumption and with the help of thermal imaging cameras suggesting methods of energy conservation. They then started the community energy project in 2014 by setting up an investment fund which would provide a 4% return and low cost electricity to a community facility and are working on seven solar PV projects.
They were very clear on the practicalities of the project and have offered to help set up a community energy scheme in Leighton Buzzard
Victoria Harvey, of South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth, said: “Climate change is already harming our precious wildlife through increasing extreme rainfall and flash flooding.
“Insurance companies such as Aviva are calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies so we need to take urgent action to transform our energy supply through renewables, demand reduction, storage etc.
“The UK was the first country to have a Climate Change Act and from the enthusiasm at the meeting I am sure that Leighton Linslade in partnership with our councils can be a leader in showing how the UK can have its own independent secure affordable energy supply that creates jobs and supports the local economy.”