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Article from the Western Morning News on visit to Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network

July 25, 2011 2:55 PM

Article Published in the Western Morning News, 20th July 2011 on Sir Graham Watson's Visit to Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (

Green town can be a 'blueprint for world'

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ambitious efforts to catapult a Cornish town to the centre of the UK's sustainable energy plans could become a blueprint for like-minded community groups around the globe, a West politician has claimed.

The Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), which is backed by a dedicated and expanding group of local residents and business owners, has taken major steps towards beating Europe's own self-sufficiency and carbon emissions targets after rolling out a series of projects designed to generate funds from renewable energy sources.

And its latest venture - a 242kW solar installation at an eco-friendly holiday facility on the outskirts of the North Cornwall town - has won the backing of West MEP and Chairman of the Climate Parliament, Sir Graham Watson.

On a visit to The Olde House run by Andrew and Janice Hawkey this week, the MEP said: "I have been extremely impressed with the work WREN has done in not only harnessing the benefits of renewable energy, but also in taking the initiative to set up a self-sustaining town.

"I hope that the WREN template can be exported to other communities who wish to decide for themselves how their community is powered without outside interference.

"Renewable energy and action on climate change are at the top of the coalition government and Europe's agenda right now.

"We must reward the work WREN and the people of Wadebridge have done so far to ensure they can become a fully self sufficient town with funding for further projects."

WREN has already gone some way towards achieving its aim of generating 30 per cent of community's energy from local renewables by 2015.

One of the town's launderettes is believed to be the only one in the country operated by solar power after a 3.76kW system was installed this summer using hundreds of solar panels.

It means the small-scale projects can take advantage of the Government's Feed-in Tariff scheme, which provides a subsidy for every unit of renewable energy produced. As well as environmental benefits, the group believes it will generate an income of £300,000 per year for investment in whatever townspeople value.

Other technologies, including tidal power from the River Camel, and the adoption of electric vehicles are being explored.

On the first day The Olde House's solar panels were connected, they produced 1570 kWh of energy - about 40 per cent of most households' annual electricity consumption.

Stephen Frankel, chairman of the WREN board of directors, said: "We are thrilled the Hawkey family and The Olde House are part of WREN, and very grateful for their generosity in contributing some of the income from this facility to the WREN community fund.

"Tourism is a major source of local income, so we are keen that people nationally and internationally should know that here we are moving rapidly into the low carbon economy."

Mr Frankel will speaking at next week's two-day Cornwall Renewable Energy Show at Delabole.

(Picture has been removed and replaced with photo taken from Graham's own camera)