Talking renewables in Basingstoke

An evening with some community energy visionaries

29 November 2013

On a cold winter's evening, people of Hampshire were welcomed into the warmth and historical beauty of St Michael’s Church in Basingstoke – to hear from local energy co-operative, Hampshire Energy Group.

CSE’s PlanLoCaL model landscape stood proudly in the centre of the Tudor barn, showcasing different forms of renewable energy. Two hours earlier, the model had sat in Basingstoke’s council chamber, helping CSE’s Kieran Highman and Hampshire Energy Group’s Martin Heath run a community renewable energy workshop for 22 Hampshire-based council officers and councillors.

The evening event in the church had a different purpose and atmosphere. Set up in late 2012, Hampshire Energy Group is an ambitious community group seeking to grow its membership. The group is also in negotiations with energy giant EDF, with the aim of obtaining a 10% stake in Bullington Cross Wind Farm. Whilst this project is not the group’s core purpose, it would enhance their skills and provide an income for funding their other activities.

Martin introduced the evening event, with Kieran using the model to illustrate different forms of renewable energy and potential roles for community groups. Martin then explained the purpose of Hampshire Energy Group, and the benefits community energy can bring to the local economy - more jobs, lower energy costs, greater investment, and of course, clean electricity.

A few of Hampshire’s residents, including members of Keep Hampshire Green, are opposed to the wind farm proposal. They attended to express their views – but also to learn more about Hampshire Energy Group and projects the Co-op could develop. Ideas such as a farm-scale anaerobic digester, potentially funded via the Rural Community Energy Fund, helped maintain a positive, constructive atmosphere.

Already, three of the 34 who attended the evening have joined Hampshire Energy Group, and we're hopeful more will join them. Please visit their website if you are interested in becoming a member or supporting the Bullington Cross proposal.

If you are a member of a community group interested in either using the PlanLoCaL model, or in receiving some free advice on the rural community energy fund, please contact CSE’s communities team: | 0117 934 1400

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