Get behind village’s bid for solar cash

A RALLYING cry has been made urging people to support a campaign to help a north Northumberland village scoop tens of thousands of pounds to install solar panels on its community buildings.

Belford Energy Saving Together (BEST) is fighting for a chunk of £500,000 which has been made available from the energyshare fund – earmarked to support inspiring, community-led, renewable energy projects across Great Britain.

BEST’s scheme is to install the panels at Belford First School, St Mary’s Church of England Middle School, The Bell View Centre, Belford Medical Practice, the United Reformed Church and Belford Community Club.

The group, which was formed in 2008, needs around £90,000 from the energyshare fund to make the scheme a reality.

And BEST is now calling on people to show their support, urging the public to sign petitions which are available in the village or by registering online, to help the project stand a chance of winning a slice of the money.

Roy Dodds, co-founder of BEST, said: “Ours is a very good project and we need supporters to show that there is support for the scheme. We have 248 online supporters so far but we’d like 1,000 signed up (to the petition) or online. Please show support in your twos, threes, tens, hundreds.

“You haven’t got to be from Belford to show your support. If you think it is a good scheme, you can show your support, no matter where you are from.”

The BEST project has made it onto a shortlist of 100 groups which have been invited to make a formal application for funding.

The shortlisted applicants have until September 30 to submit their full applications.

A final shortlist of approximately 10 groups, decided by representatives from energyshare, River Cottage, British Gas and Friends of the Earth, will be published on energyshare.com for a public vote to determine who will receive funding.

BEST say that the project would reduce Belford’s carbon footprint, save on community buildings’ energy bills and bring in money for the benefit of the community.

The group, which is planning to write to Sir Alan Beith MP and Belford Parish Council to get their support for the scheme, claim that the project provides an opportunity for key community organisations to work together to make Belford a greener place to live.

Mr Dodds added: “I think the possibility of having solar power on the public buildings in Belford would make a really good statement that the people of Belford are willing and able to make a contribution to lowering the carbon footprint of the village, and the world in a way.

“Providing that we can get the money and providing it is do-able, it would be an overt sign that Belford is committed to reducing its energy consumption and reducing its carbon footprint.

“It would be saying to the world that Belford is a place conscious of the need to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint.”

Petitions can be found in the village’s paper shop, charity shop and Co-op store, while people can show their support online at energyshare.com/best