Village goes green in new cash bid

A NORTH Northumberland village could win another £100,000 of funding, but the community is already reaping the benefits of going green.

Ingram was the North East winner of the British Gas Green Streets competition in 2009 and has used grants totalling around £120,000 to develop green energy in the village.

Two-thirds of the money was used to refurbish the village hall by installing 33 photovoltaic (PV) panels and an air-to–air heat exchanger, while the other third was used to help 21 homes in the village become more energy-efficient.

The solar panels produce electricity to power and heat the hall as well as feeding extra energy into the National Grid.

On June 17, representatives of the village will go to Edinburgh to tell their story, with the chance of winning the extra grant.

Joyce Clayton, from the village hall committee, described how the scheme has already transformed the village.

“As far as the community is concerned and the village hall, it’s been a huge success.

“We don’t have to wear our coats in the village hall, it’s warm, pleasant, light, it’s just transformed it,” she said.

But the physical changes have been accompanied by a change of attitude in the village towards energy use.

“The most important thing we have learned is where our energy is going.

“It’s amazing how much your behaviour changes when you realise what you are using.”

She added that they aren’t approaching the forthcoming Dragon’s Den style pitch as a competition.

“We will be approaching it as telling our story. It doesn’t end with the village hall – the whole green approach has been propagated out to the whole village.”

And if Ingram were to win the extra funding then it would be used to continue using green energy to benefit the village.

Mrs Clayton said: “One of the things we would use the funding for is to continue to generate energy that we can feed back into the grid so the community can continues to get energy.”

The village hall committee have not made any firm decisions about what the funds would be used for but they have discussed a number of options.

These include a small-scale hydro project and building a larger wind turbine – there is already one small turbine in the Breamish Valley.

They are also looking at electric cars with a view to installing a charging point for electric vehicles at the village hall, which would raise money, or purchasing an electric four-wheel drive vehicle to help transport less mobile people around the area so they are able to visit all that the area has to offer.

Ingram was declared winner of the Green Streets project for the North East in October 2009 following a presentation by the village hall committee.

The work started in January last year and the majority of the major work such as the installation of solar panels was finished by July.

While money from the British Gas Green Streets scheme was used to fund the heating aspects of the redevelopment, the village hall also benefitted from funding from the Northumberland National Park sustainable development fund, Defra via COMMA, the community aggregates schem, Ingram show and county Coun Anthony Murray’s capital funding, which was spent on aspects such as replacing the floor.

The grand re-opening of Ingram Village Hall took place at the end of August 2010.