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December 12 2013 Latest news:
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Stone-built cottages in the Yorkshire Dales are among the most difficult to insulate but national park officers have some answers
The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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Homeowners and businesses in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are reaping the rewards of renewable energy sources and fighting back against rising fuel prices. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) together with Yorkshire Energy Partnership and the Energy Saving Trust has launched a Green Communities programme to provide free advice and support to selected communities within the Yorkshire Dales.
Project officer Jill Armstrong is working alongside the communities of Clapham, Grassington and Threshfield, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Stainforth, Malhamdale and Raydale for up to two years to help them to understand their carbon footprint and to develop a realistic action plan to reduce it. In the national park, many people have to pay more for home energy because their property is not connected to a mains gas or it is stone-built, making it harder to insulate, said Jill.
I work with communities to help them reduce their fuel bills and to live more sustainably and I liaise with other agencies and partners to bring projects and solutions to the Dales that wouldnt otherwise happen.
Residential properties in Grassington and Threshfield are involved in a pilot insulation project in which hard-to-treat stone cavities are filled with Polypearl beads. Costs will be kept as low as possible for the owners through grants from energy companies, together with North Yorkshire Strategic Partnership Performance Reward grant money awarded to the YDNPA.
The Green Communities programme is also working with the Ingleborough Estate in Clapham to provide a loft insulation package for 40 estate cottages and it is helping some of the communities to set up heating oil buying clubs where bulk orders create significant discounts.
Jill, who is based at the YDNPA Yoredale offices in Bainbridge, added: The upper Dales areas of Richmondshire and Craven have some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country so we also ran a targeted approach to identify those needing help with affordable warmth in Swaledale and to send them to get help and link to information about grants for insulation.
One success for the programmes drive to encourage residents to take up renewable energy technologies has been the accreditation of Swaledale company Stubbs Electrical Ltd with a certificate to install solar PV panels.
Any householder installing renewable energy with a view to benefit from the Governments Feed-In Tariff, must use an installer and equipment covered by a mark of quality called the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), said Jill. This is the first business in the national park to be registered with the MCS.
Its a good example of a local business up-skilling to meet the demands of new technology and it means he will be working with local builders to do the installations. Hopefully this in turn will encourage people to install solar PV in a sustainable way by supporting the local economy rather than getting an installer from miles away who isnt sympathetic to the character of Dales houses or doesnt know how to work on a Dales stone roof.
Swaledale homeowner Steve Clough, who was Stubbs Electricals first customer, said: We wanted to make our home more sustainable and as we had a large, south facing roof, solar PV was definitely something to look into.
Planning guidance for householders is available on the YDNPA website at yorkshiredales.org.uk/renewables-permission.htm#solar.
The National Park Authority has also produced Guide to Energy Production in the Yorkshire Dales National Park which contains helpful advice about solar PV and other renewable technologies and can be found at yorkshiredales.org.uk/energyproductionguide.htm.