Friday, 15 April 2011

Green Power Could Save Millions


By Ben Aulakh

A Midlands council could save millions of pounds a year by becoming carbon neutral, according to a task force set up to investigate the issue.

A cross-party group of councillors from Gloucestershire County Council say that the local authority could make huge savings on its energy bills by investing in green power.

Cllr John Cordwell, Chair of the task group said, “Our work has shown that there is considerable scope for investment in renewable energy on the council's estate.

“Not only will this reduce the council's carbon footprint and cut its energy bills, it will also provide an example to other businesses in the county.”

The group – made up of councillors who sit on the Environment Scrutiny Committee – have spent the past year examining the issue of how best the council can utilise renewable energy.

They have discovered that the council can become carbon neutral and savings of millions of pounds are possible if the authority agrees to invest in green energy.

Specifically, they say that there are real opportunities for wind turbines and solar panels to be installed on council owned land and property, and work has already started on assessing what can be done.

As part of the project, the task group visited the Bristol Port Company at Avonmouth to see the wind turbines that were constructed in 2006.

Members also travelled to Elkstone Manor in the Cotswolds to look at a solar farm at a large private residence, they also visited a biogas plant on a dairy farm in Kemble.

The group have suggested that wind and solar power are the most sustainable route to take, however potential locations for these facilities have not yet been looked at.

At the moment, the council produces around 60,000 tonnes of carbon every year and spends more than £8 million on energy bills.

Initial investigations show investing £25million into the projects could make the council carbon neutral and generate an ongoing annual income of £5million.

Cabinet discussed the task group's report at its April meeting and were impressed with the report.

Council officers will now develop the proposals before bringing them back before Cabinet for consideration later in the year.

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