Homework for the NT Team. Community Energy is still alive and growing… despite the system.

Paula and Alun mid filming.

Paula and Alun mid filming.

We had just under 50 people come to a meeting at our HQ tonight. Pete’s eats cafe in Llanberis. (ps thanks for the tea and coffee tonight Pete!) These 50 have agreed to be ambassadors for the new community hydros. We had NGO’s Charities, multiple community councils, University and other community Energy companies (Ogwen and Anafon). The Llanberis group have three months to raise £250k but a lot of commitment to make this happen. Oh and we were also filming with the TV company Cwmni Da for the upcoming crowd source funding campaign which will start on the 27th of Feb. Thanks to Arloisi Gwynedd for the support and funding to make this part happen.

The power of people is an incredible thing to see and experience. In a world of apathy and hoping instead of doing its a delight to experience people who want to do stuff. Tonight was testament to what can happen if enough people ‘want’ something to happen and then just go ahead and do it.”  Mills, Paul, Enfys and myself are helping community teams to make thing happen in the world of renewables. Tonight we went after work to a community energy meeting to share but also to ‘do’. Paul is a volunteer project manager after 5pm for a new community hydro which is more or less shovel ready in Llanberis. Mills has kindly donated but also been taking the images. (not sure if Mills is a good dry stone waller for the NT who takes good images or a photographer who is a good dry stone walling.

Thanks to Mills for all the time and images (this is part of the Llanberis community hydro team)

Thanks to Mills for all the time and images (this is part of the Llanberis community hydro team)

Enfys is helping with the business support for the Bethesda Community Hydro and I am trying to raise loan finance and grants to make the two happen.

Pint of tea and some good people can make the impossible… possible. Paul , Mills, Enfys and I are sharing the NT experience to make things happen

The sense of satisfaction, frustration, delight, disappointment, determination within a group of committed professional volunteers is very powerful. This time next year we will have helped two more community projects generate benefit for my children’s children. The National Trust has a phenomenal team delivering incredible projects on the Trust properties but seeing the spread of this expertise to make a difference in our communities of an evening is just as satisfying. Yes the Government have given the sector a good kicking but its interesting to experience the drive, innovation and determination come to the fore. Yes we are cutting our suit from the cloth we are given but also looking for other pieces to patch the gaps. Flyer-YPP-

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Fit for the Future launches first progress report

Picture1We are very proud to present our first Progress Report, which celebrates the Network’s matchmaking success stories and reveals what our members have achieved this year. We have worked with 988 practitioners from 106 organisations. Here’s a look at the collective impact our members are having.FFTF1

The report also reveals how savings are making a big difference to the organisations involved. The National Trust has saved enough money on electricity bills this year to pay for 36 kilometres of footpath restoration, whilst the RNLI’s expected income and savings from renewables could pay for 10 inshore rescue boats per year.

As well as the collective impact our members are having, the report celebrates Network success stories and our achievements over the past year. Chatsworth House have installed 15 biomass systems after recieving advice from the National Trust, and Scottish Canals have launched their first ever Environment Strategy with help from fellow members.

We’re very pleased to report that 100% of our members would recommend the Network to their peers. Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, said:

“The Fit for the Future Network has grown into a really powerful movement for effective action on climate change thanks to the hard work of the practitioners from all organisations involved. The National Trust and Ashden set up the network because we believed that collaboration is one of the best tools we have to mitigate its threat.”

At more than 30 events, site visits and meetings hosted by the Network, 988 people from more than 100 organisations have been able to collaborate and share knowledge to move forward more quickly and successfully with sustainability work. The practitioners involved range from those working in catering and procurement to gardeners, estate managers and sustainability experts.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder director of Ashden, said:

“What is so important about this network is that it brings these organisations together to learn from each other and accelerate their energy reduction plans but not just that: the money saved on energy can be ploughed back into an organisation’s core services whether that is buying lifeboats, fighting cancer or preserving the UK’s heritage. It has been a busy year and we hope that with more funding and more organisations joining we can achieve even bigger savings and really make our UK buildings fit for the future.”FFTF2

Network members are making significant headway when it comes to energy reduction. At The Crown Estate’s Windsor gardens, an LED lighting upgrade programme is expected to reduce energy consumption by 55 per cent annually. A pilot scheme undertaken by Oxfam GB has resulted in an average 18 per cent electricity consumption saving per charity shop.

Going forward, the Network continues to grow its membership and is currently advertising for a new chairperson. It will also be widening its scope to cover all areas of sustainability including waste, water and food.

Fit for the Future progress report

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Is ISO14001 worth it?

Annual reportJust finishing off the  prep work for this years looming external ISO14001 Environmental Standard audits.

Keith and I have been discussing the merits (or otherwise) of obtaining and maintaining our accreditation in light of balancing this against the delivery of projects and improvements on the ground (the real world benefit).


  • Time consuming in terms of paperwork, process and updating
  • Is this bureaucracy for the sake of it?
  • Does it actually improve your environmental impact (knowing something and acting on something are two separate things)


  • Makes us stop and assess how we are actually progressing
  • Helps with maintain focus to reach your targets
  • External validation and recognition for all of the efforts of the staff and volunteers
  • Adds weight to both internal and external discussions (quantifiable proof of holistic approach working to deliver)

All things considered we both agree (an unusual occurrence) that the external validation via an internationally recognised environmental standard ensures we keep our focus on the bigger picture and not get sidetracked by “shiny and exciting”. Stopping and recognising what has been achieved since NT Wales began this process is something we don’t often do, but that’s when we have our annual renewal of enthusiasm.


Anyway, have a look at our latest annual report and judge for yourself.


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REI programme team full steam ahead

P1000256Over the coming months we will be sharing guest blogs by our REI programme project managers. To set the scene Emma Griffiths is first up…..

“The National Trust made a conscious commitment to becoming more energy sustainable back in 2012 following comprehensive energy auditing. In April 2014 we successfully completed a £3.5 million pound pilot programme of projects which demonstrated the positive change and innovation that can be brought about by having a national approach. In 2015 the success and impact was significant enough that the Trustees approved a £33 million programme, which meant that another 60 projects could be delivered split between renewable heat and hydro. We are directly contributing to the 50% renewable energy target which we aim to reach by 2020.

Over the last few months we have been busy getting the full REI programme team up and running! There are now 10 Project Managers and me as Heat Programme Lead. Each project manager works regionally so we are already gaining momentum right across the Trust and making a positive difference.

It is such a privilege to work for the Trust and with a great team! We already have 8 projects in train with a further 32 in development, we are a busy bunch!

P1000249Our first full programme heat project was completed last October at Upton House, Banbury. It was completed in record time just 6 months after the programme was launched, which is testimony to our nationally co-ordinated approach and having dedicated project managers.

Last month saw the completion of the biomass installation at Saltram House in the South West complete by Peter Bee.   We are on site with an installation at Nunnington in the North of England, being completed by Ed Wood and Victoria Lancaster. And also a lake source heat pump at Blicking Estate in the East of England.

P1000253We are gaining an incredible amount of learning by working together on a national programme, and we regularly visit new projects … this month we visited Upton house , it as a great opportunity for the team to see the difference the new renewable heating system is making to the property.

The old "how many project managers can you fit in a cupboard initiation"

The old “how many project managers can you fit in a cupboard initiation”

Over the next 6 months all the project managers will be uploading blogs on their experiences and learning through their projects and the programme so watch this space…”

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How is the community energy doing?

Rain rain and more rain. 280Mw since start up in Dec... RESULT! (Image from Gavin)

Anafon hydro weir. Rain, rain and more rain. 280,000 Kwh since start-up in Dec… RESULT! (Image from Gavin)

Its been a mad three months in the community energy sector but feels like stuff is now settling having seen huge changes in support mechanisms (money!) and perceived agreements with the Government. So whats happening on the ground…?

The superb news is that the £1m  Anafon Community 270kw Hydro started generating on the 7th of Dec (ps 280,000 kwh since then!). The team has been superb and never giving up. They had a slight washout around the weir because of  the rain around Christmas but this is an easy repair. The next step is to train as many local people as possible to maintain the system and let it bed down for a while! More to come

Llanberis hydro is fully pre-accredited, leases signed all the permissions in place and now its about raising capital. The last month or so is about gearing up for a share offer launch on the 27th of Feb and working towards the May build. Llanberis and Bethesda were successful in being chosen by the Gwynedd Local Action Group (EU Leader funding) as the pilot projects for marketing and crowd funding support. (we have a TV company working with us… more to come) we have had to work hard to reduce the costs of the hydro to make sure we have as much benefit for the community as possible… work in progress but looking ok

the old hydro in Bethesda. new one will be here this year!

The old hydro in Bethesda. New one will be here this year!

Bethesda Hydro is now fully leased and approved but missed out on pre accreditation and so moves from 15p per kwh to 8p per kwh. Where the Government got its fig of 9% return is beyond me on 8.6p per kwh. With grants, donations, volunteers, and cutting the project to the bone but we can’t get anywhere near this 9% figure. We have a return but thanks more to the team than the system. Both Llanberis and the Bethesda hydro will be developing together and so can share resources and support each other. Watch-out for the 27th of Feb!

Cyd Ynni the consortium of 6 community energy companies is developing well. We now have consultants working with us on the business plan. Next Friday i hope we can nail the company structure better as we have a large community meeting. We have started working on various heat projects for the group… slow burn (sorry). Finally and most excitedly the Energy Local trial is looking good for take off in early summer. We find out in the next week if we are to receive significant funding for the development of the trail in one of our communities. More income and cheaper power… whats not to like!

the brand new never seen before Hydrolite 99kw Turgo. cost effective, quick to install and durable

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When Amber Rudd came to Croft

Guest blog from Mike Hudson, REI Programme Director on his recent meeting at Croft Castle (one of our pilot projects). Over to you Mike –

We recently welcomed Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and local MP Bill Wiggin to Croft Castle nestled in the beautiful, if muddy, Herefordshire countryside to officially open our biomass heating system.
This cutting edge technology is getting the property off oil, reducing our heating bills and benefitting the environment in this special place.  

As one of five pilot projects, developed with our partner Good Energy, it has paved the way for our £30 million Renewable Energy Investment Programme (REIP), launched last summer.

The visit gave us the chance to show Ms. Rudd and Mr. Wiggins our new boiler system powered by wood chip sourced from conifers on the estate. We explained that this project, and the future ones we have planned, simply would not be possible without the Government’s support for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

  Our woodland expert Iain Carter explained how conifer trees had overrun areas of the estate, impacting on the ancient woodland and species – not to mention the views. It is important to understand that this project has realized fantastic nature conservation benefits too. So by using the trees for fuel, instead of buying oil, we are opening up space for the ancient broadleaf woodland, dating back to the 1600’s, and wildlife to thrive. It has also helped with flood management on the estate.

The new system isn’t just good news for Croft, there are benefits for the local economy too. Oil powering the old boilers came from far away but now we harvest our energy locally. Jobs have been created in Herefordshire and woodchip suppliers are investing in new equipment as the industry becomes more financially sustainable. It’s been a tough time for renewable energy recently as the government has cut the Feed in Tariffs paid to small scale renewable schemes. We raised our concerns over the proposals during the consultation process but available tariffs are set to fall by over 60 per cent in some cases. We told Ms. Rudd that this will have a serious impact on the financial viability on some of our proposed projects in the wider REIP.

  The Energy Secretary said the Government’s reasons behind the Feed-in Tariff cuts were to keep energy bills as low as possible and ensure that support for low carbon technologies represents value for money for consumers. 

Ms Rudd did say that funds for the Renewable Heat Incentive, which subsidises Croft’s biomass, and without which it would not have been possible to build, would increase up to 2020/21. Whilst this is welcome news the cash needs to be distributed across the sector and not be used to just support bigger businesses which are more likely to import the biomass they use.

This was the second time that the Energy Secretary had visited one of our properties. She came to Ickworth in the summer to see our biomass system. At Croft she was right to cite this as a really good example of cutting edge technology and we have extended the invitation for her to see more of how our renewable’s work is helping us play our part in addressing the impacts of climate change. Let’s see what happens.

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Berthen Hydro update – floods and so on but we keep on keeping on

This is an update which Enfys Evans prepares for the team every month or so. Thought i’d share with you. Good mitigation in bad weather!


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