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October 22, 2008

Eigg eyes up share of £1 million prize

The island of Eigg has never had a connection to the national grid. Earlier this year, after many years planning and development, a combined wind, hydro and solar panel powered system was switched on to a local supply network. All houses on the island are now receiving this completely renewable supply of electricity. More plans are in the offing to reduce their carbon footprint even further. The islanders’ efforts have recently been recognised by NESTA and they have been shortlisted to share in a £1million prize


Ten community-led projects, designed to tackle climate change head on, have reached the final stage of NESTA’s £1 million prize competition, the “Big Green Challenge”.

The finalists have 12 months to slash CO2 emissions in their local communities – proving that communities can work together to develop new approaches to saving energy.

The competition – the largest prize fund of its type – was launched in response to NESTA’s concern that the onus for a “miracle cure” to solve climate change is too heavily focused on science and technology, whereas individuals and community groups may hold the answers.

Jonathan Kestenbaum, NESTA’s CEO, said: “The fact that we had over 350 communities submitting strong ideas demonstrates there is the passion and knowledge across the UK to devise imaginative responses to climate change.

“We are confident the 10 finalists will step up to the challenge of tackling the biggest single issue facing the planet.”

He added: “The scale of the problem means that the development of new technology in itself will not be enough.

“The full range of innovation in response to climate change is not currently being utilised. We need individuals and communities to commit to changing the way we live and work.”

NESTA is calling on Government, as well as public and private funders, to build on the work of the Big Green Challenge to support community-led action to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive and founder of Good Energy, who is part of the judging panel, said: “If the Government is serious about creating a low-carbon society, people need to be encouraged to be a part of the solution, or the UK will struggle to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050.”

Big Green Challenge finalists have been awarded up to £20,000, and will also receive professional business support to get their projects up and running over the next year.

A high profile judging panel, including Lord Puttnam, who chaired the Parliamentary Cross Party Select Committee on Climate Change will decide on the overall winner – or winners ¬– in November 2009.

Big Green Challenge Finalists:
Isle of Eigg – Isle of Eigg, Scotland
The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust is planning a range of innovative initiatives including community biodiesel use, using excess heat from island electricity generation to heat community buildings and new recycling schemes for paper and oil.

Back 2 Earth – Hackney, London
Back 2 Earth is based at Hackney City Farm and aims to be a community resource and environmental improvement centre, promoting healthy living and implementing its 60 ideas for carbon reduction which include environmental workshops, courses and rainwater collection and reuse.

Community Sustainability Trust – Oxford
Oxford Community Association ‘Low Carbon West Oxford’ is planning to reduce CO2 and deal with flooding via its ‘community sustainability trust’. Key projects will include water cycling and harvesting, on-farm anaerobic digestion and community food production.

Faith and Climate Change in Birmingham – Birmingham
Faith and Climate Change in Birmingham is taking a technological and holistic approach towards their project. By incorporating work such as community gardening, theological debates, street clean-ups and tree planting they intend to include all faiths in their community to help reduce CO2.

The Green School Bus – Lytham
The Green School Bus project, run by St Bedes School, aims to set up a Green Bus for the school and community that would use biodiesel, be equipped with solar roof panels and have charging points for pupils’ laptops, mobile phones and iPods/MP3 players.

Household Energy Service – community owned ESCo. – Bishop’s Castle
Light Foot Enterprises will set up a number of community owned and operated volunteer workforces to help people take the maximum number of environmental measures at the lowest costs and provide ongoing contact and support.

Global Generation – Kentish Town, London
A small charity in Kentish Town who would like to further develop their practical programmes, using young people as climate change champions. Their wide range of techniques for CO2 reduction includes the innovative green rooftops in urban spaces programme.

Meadows Ozone Green Loans – Nottingham
The Nottingham Energy Partnership, a charity working with a local credit union, has designed a 0% interest finance scheme for energy efficiency improvements, and is working on other projects, including a local energy company selling green electricity from a 330kW wind turbine.

The Three Green Valleys – Brecon, Wales
This group aims to develop micro hydro generation on steep valley sides that will produce enough electricity to finance further installations and provide capital for habitat restoration, efficiency measures and community food and transport projects.

Used Cooking Oil Alliance – Arundel, Sussex
Work This Way aims to set up a bio-fuels production programme in conjunction with Ford Prison in Sussex, collecting used vegetable oil from other prisons in the region to offer to local communities. Through the scheme, offenders will develop training and skills to enable them to find sustainable employment when released from prison.