page title icon Kickstarting community-led activity

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The groups have settled on three priority community-led projects aiming to initiate a local low-carbon transition.

Energy advice in Westwood

The Westwood group has set its sites on setting up a weekly one-to-one energy advice drop-in based at the Millennium Centre.

Three pressing issues for the local community influenced the decision to focus on this project.

  1. Westwood has one of the highest percentage concentrations of households experiencing fuel poverty in Oldham.

Statistics show an average of 19.4% of homes in fuel poverty, but in some areas, this is as high as 25%. We know that recent and future energy price rises will push these rates higher. As a result, many people in Westwood need to spend a large proportion of their household income to keep their homes warm during winter. The reality is that despite spending what they can, under-heating or ‘self-disconnection’ is common.

2. There is a lack of access to retrofit support services and finance options in Westwood.

Many households in Westwood find it challenging to access support and finance options to help with paying energy bills. It is also difficult to access finance for making energy efficiency improvements. There is a lack of time in busy working households to consider the complex web of
issues, especially for lower-income families where day-to-day stresses of life can leave little head-space to consider other things. There is also a lack of adequately skilled tradespeople in Oldham and across the country, creating a challenge in finding good quality installers.

3. There is also a lack of knowledge around domestic energy efficiency measures and
their benefits in the community.

Many people in the community are not aware of the types of DIY improvements they can
make to their homes to make them more energy efficient and the benefits of improving
comfort and reducing energy bills. There is a real need to share the knowledge and resources to support local people in understanding the measures they can take to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and the benefits this can bring.

There is also a lack of access to trustworthy and independent information on measures that would be suitable for their home.

The pilot project aims to tackle this issue, by providing energy advice suited to the needs of the community, at a time when it’s most needed. The group understood that there are limits to the expertise in energy efficiency measures currently held in the community. In response, they will use the pilot project to train up newly qualified energy advisors who will share the advice gathered during the Oldham Energy Futures programme with local people over a cup of tea.

With an understanding of the issues in mind, the advisors will make recommendations for
immediate action and signpost people in the community towards services that can provide
further support. Residents will also be able to book a follow-up home visit. There, the advisor will support the resident to act upon the advice given in the one-to-one sessions, identify which measures are most important to act upon and take a lead on installing basic DIY measures.

Sholver Futures Travel Group

In Sholver the group will be launching Sholver Futures Travel Group. The group aims to raise awareness, campaign and work with stakeholders such as Oldham Council, First Choice Homes and Transport For Greater Manchester to improve all travel options in Sholver.

The group settled on this project due to the opportunities for improving sustainable transport options during the workshop programme.

  1. Sustainable public transport options and travel in the area could be improved, especially the frequency and affordability of bus services and the quality of the bus stops.

The public transport plan shows that the bus services between Sholver and Oldham/
Manchester is infrequent, especially during the weekend. We know from experience that
there is a need for:

• Improved bus routes between Sholver, Shaw, and Royton.
• Cheaper bus fares.
• Improved bus stops that protect from Sholver weather have seating and include up-to-date information on bus timetables and service status.
• Improvements to bus services during bad weather (snow)

2. There is a need to improve walkability, safety and wayfinding around the neighbourhood.

We walked through Sholver and identified areas which were difficult to navigate on foot – either because of poor pavement conditions, steps which had fallen into disrepair or inadequate lighting, places to rest on steep hills and paths which had no or old signposting.

3. The hilly topography and lack of rest points along key walking routes in Sholver are resulting in cars for short journeys within the neighbourhood.

Walking around Sholver is uncomfortable because of the hills and lack of places to rest;
this means that people use their cars for even very short journeys.

In addition, it is hard to walk to the existing local shops in Sholver, which are a long way
away from homes and without any places you can stop and rest comfortably, people are less likely to want to walk.

By establishing a new campaign group, the local representatives hope to become champions of the Sholver community, improve green spaces, promote opportunities to residents, and highlight successes in Sholver.

Sholver Renewables Action

Sholver residents will also be setting up a new action group which aims to increase local renewables in Oldham.

During the workshop programme, the group realised that they could help decarbonise the energy system by generating renewable energy locally on rooftops of our homes, businesses and community buildings.

Whilst there is a huge investment in large-scale renewables to feed the grid (particularly off-shore wind), we are way off the 100% decarbonised grid electricity goal. Medium-sized onshore renewables will be a crucial part of delivering the increase in the renewable generation we need.

As the nation moves to more electric heating and electric cars, the national grid will have to reinforce the network to transmit the extra load.

Producing renewables where the energy is needed can reduce the need for additional network infrastructure.

In Sholver the Oldham Energy Futures local analysis of potential buildings and electricity off-takers for rooftop solar showed that there are a number of community buildings, including schools in the neighbourhood where rooftop solar photovoltaics (PVs) could be installed to increase local energy generation.

Whilst there are not many high energy users in Sholver as there are no large or industrial
businesses or utilities companies located in the area there are several community buildings that could potentially be used for solar projects.

The group also showed an interest in maximising the potential for community-owned renewables in the whole of the Oldham borough.

Working alongside Carbon Coop the group will spend the next three months, exploring how we can help to increase community-owned renewables in Oldham and to develop a longer-term project plan for this group and initial fundraising activities for initial engagement and awareness-raising programmes.

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