Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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21 Dec 2009

Transition Town Totnes Celebrates Emerging as one of DECC’s Low Carbon Communities

The TTT Christmas party just after the news was announced on Friday night

The TTT Christmas party just after the news was announced on Friday night

I am delighted to be able to announce that Transition Town Totnes has been selected as one of 10 ‘first movers’ in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s ‘Low Carbon Communities Challenge’, which I introduced here when it was launched in late September.  The scheme was run on incredibly tight timeframes, as any of the many other Transition initiatives who applied will attest, and it was a miracle, given the timeframes, that anyone got any bids together at all.  The ‘second movers’ will be announced in January. 

To put my Transition Network hat on for a few moments, and in spite of being part of the bid writing team for Totnes, I still stand by my comments in my review of the Government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan, where I said that what England and Wales need is something like the Climate Challenge Fund that operates so successfully in Scotland.  A pot of £10 million to be distributed to 20 projects is great for finding valuable research projects and for boosting some of the initiatives that just need some support in order to be able to ‘tip’, but it doesn’t come close to supporting the work on the ground that could happen, and is so badly needed, right across Britain.  Another thing which I think is great about the CCF north of the border is that, unlike the Low Carbon Communities programme, it isn’t directly competitive – the funding stream is ongoing for the 3 year life of the CCF and communities which weren’t ready to bid into it right at the start can learn from other communities’ experiences while developing their thoughts.

The fact that over 300 applications were received by DECC, and that there were over 500 expressions of interest, many from Transition initiatives, is an indicator of the groundswell of activity across the country, with Transition initiatives, Low Carbon Communities, CRAG groups and so on.  All of this needs the kind of support available in Scotland, where groups can apply for anywhere between £1,000 and over £1,000,000 for core costs and for funding for projects.  Transition Network has worked with DECC to do all it can to make the Low Carbon Communities programme as community focussed as possible, with Peter Lipman sitting on the programme advisory board – but this certainly doesn’t mean that we won’t also continue to lobby hard for a scheme like the CCF to be set up in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

Anyway, with my Totnes hat back on, we are delighted that TTT is now able to step up to a new level in terms of the depth and reach of its work, and to be able to be part of this vital research into the ability of Transition to bring about effective and long lasting behaviour change when given some meaningful level of support. Here is the summary of the proposal Totnes made;

Transition Town Totnes (TTT) is a community-led organisation which has inspired an international movement of communities exploring responses to climate change.  Following extensive community consultation, TTT has produced the first ‘Energy Descent Action Plan’ (EDAP) and this LCCC project will contribute significantly to its implementation.  Because of the many changes already underway in Totnes we are applying to be first movers.

‘Transition Streets’ has 4 stages.

  1. Behaviour Change: to support deep cultural and behavioural change, TTT will initially select 15 streets, involving a minimum of eight households from a wide cross section, to participate in our successful programme, Transition Together. This programme, designed to inspire practical change at the community level, successfully piloted in Totnes, offers quantifiable reductions in energy consumption, food, transportation, water and waste.  This ensures households have achieved all affordable reduction measures and have the intrinsic motivation and social support to take them to the next stage.
  2. Energy Efficiency: on commencing Transition Together, householders will fill in the Home Energy Check form provided by the Energy Savings Trust (EST) and receive a bespoke home energy audit. They will apply for highly subsidised energy efficiency measures through our partnership with South Hams District Council’s (SHDC) ‘Cosy Devon’ scheme, overseen by Energy Action Devon (EAD), including loft and cavity wall insulation, and in some cases, secondary glazing and external wall cladding. EST will provide us with baseline and completion data for the research element of this part of the project.
  3. Renewable Energy: one participant from each Transition Street will complete training in assessing suitability for household microgeneration, offered by Devon Association for Renewable Energy (DARE), and participants’ houses will be assessed. If houses are suitable for solar PV we will offer £3000 towards solar PV installations along with significant savings on the unit cost of systems due to bulk purchase and upfront payment to a solar PV installer. For low income households SHDC will offer further grant aid and low interest loans through their partnership with Wessex Reinvestment Trust. Houses not suitable for PV will be encouraged to consider alternative forms of microgeneration.  DARE will provide before-and-after energy data for each house as part of the research element of the project.
  4. Community Awareness: Totnes Civic Hall is central to life in the town. In partnership with Totnes Town Council (TTC), SHDC and Devon County Council (DCC) we propose an energy retrofit of this building with our matchfunding to the tune of £50,000 to provide solar PV. The savings thus generated will be used to support further projects, with a public digital display showing the significant energy savings being made. In addition, ‘Open Streets’ event will showcase some of the upgraded houses so that the public can see what the project has achieved.

This model of educating and empowering people to decide for themselves how best to decarbonise their lives is one with huge implications for how Government tackles climate change in communities, offering genuinely bottom-up engagement coupled with ongoing behaviour change.

Also, here is the press release TTT put out today to announce the news..

Totnes’s Aspiration to become a ‘Low Carbon Community’ receives Government boost.

ttog1A warmer, brighter, solar powered New Year could be coming to your street; that is if you and some of your neighbours would like to be part of a highly innovative project called “Transition Streets”. Transition Town Totnes is celebrating the news that it has been selected as one of only 8 communities across the country to be given £500,000 by the Department for the Environment and Climate Change to accelerate their move towards becoming a low carbon community. Energy and Climate Change Minister Joan Ruddock said “we’ve had more than 300 communities register with the Low Carbon Communities Challenge, so there’s a real appetite out there to save energy to help tackle global warming and save money on fuel bills. Communities like Totnes will help to develop the policies we need in the future to make the successful transition to a low carbon economy.”

The project, called “Transition Streets”, will bring together groups of neighbours in streets across the town. It will help them to become knowledgeable about how to reduce their own energy use and reduce their carbon footprint. They will get free or very low cost loft and cavity wall insulation and draughtproofing, and advice on what type of renewable energy might be best suited to their house. Those households who decide to invest in solar photovoltaic panels on the roof will be given grants towards purchase, and they could be free to low income households. Any house with solar PV panels fitted on their roofs will benefit from lower electricity bills and the high Feed in Tariff which the government is introducing next April to encourage individual households to move to renewable energy.

Transition Town Totnes will be working with Totnes Town Council , South Hams District Council, Devon County Council, the Energy Saving Trust and other partners who specialise in energy savings and renewables. During the life of the scheme they expect to work with about 350 houses in Totnes. The project also includes Totnes Civic Hall, which currently has little insulation and uses over £6000 a year in electricity alone. Deputy leader of Totnes Town Council, Tony Whitty commented “this is fantastic news for the whole community. We will be working to match the grant of £50,000 from this project with the help of DCC so that we can make a real difference to our use of energy on this 50 year old building. The council is pleased to be working in partnership with Transition Town Totnes to get dwellings in our community better insulated and where possible fitted with renewable energy sources”.

ttog2Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition Town movement, which began in Totnes and now involves thousands of communities across Britain and the world commented: “this is a really historic moment for both Transition Town Totnes and for the town itself. We have been engaging people across the community for the last 4 years in addressing the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. We have managed with very little money and a great many volunteers. This grant will enable us to make a real difference to a very wide range of people. From January, we will be recruiting the first 15 Transition Streets where up to 10 households in each street are willing to work together to reduce their use of carbon and their fuel bills”.

The formal launch of the project giving more information will be in January and TTT will be hoping to involve a balance of types of houses across the town. Transition Town Totnes began in 2006, and now supports a range of projects, including the community’s ‘Energy Descent Action Plan’, which is due to be published in January 2010.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Marcus Perrin
21 Dec 8:30am

Congratulations Totnes!

Transition Chepstow is working with Monmouthshire County Council and South East Wales Energy Advice Centre in a Phase 2 bid, so we’ll be keeping everything crossed through January!

21 Dec 9:06am

Indeed… there are loads of Transition initiatives in Phase Two… we’ll let everyone know as soon as the results are released.
Thanks Marcus…

Vincent Brogan
21 Dec 11:46am

You are an inspiration to us as we try to be “second movers”. Omagh Transition Town

21 Dec 1:38pm

Does anyone know who are the other 9 ‘first movers’?

Mike Grenville
21 Dec 2:52pm

Sadly for us our project in Forest Row was not one but we have our hopes for Phase 2.

Here are two others that I have found online:

The Meadows in Nottingham for the installation of solar panels on 55 houses, three primary schools and at a community garden. Meadows Ozone Energy Services Ltd (MOZES), in partnership with British Gas, will receive the grant.

The Lammas project involving nine families living in eco smallholdings in the Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire will receive £350,000 from the Government to pay for a “community hub” building. The building will launch its low-impact housing initiative and pioneering farming and land-use technologies, as well as promoting carbon-positive food and fuel.

Mike Grenville
21 Dec 2:53pm

just heard that the press release with the full list will be published by 3pm today

Mike Grenville
21 Dec 3:34pm

Low Carbon Communities Challenge: Phase 1 winners

Phase 1 winners announced
Communities in Norfolk, Isle of Wight, London, Nottinghamshire, Pembrokeshire, Cheshire, Northumberland, Yorkshire, Oxfordshire and Devon are the first of twenty communities to benefit from a £10million fund as part of the Low Carbon Communities Challenge.

The winning phase 1 applicants are:

1. West Oxford Community Renewables, Oxford
To pilot a community renewables building society’ that will support the development of an integrated approach to low carbon living in West Oxford. The funding will be used by the West Oxford Community Renewables Industrial and Provident Society to develop a £1.6m pipeline of renewable energy projects. The income from these will be donated to the Low Carbon West Oxford charity to develop low carbon projects with the aim of achieving an 80% reduction in emissions in West Oxford by 2050.

2. Ellen MacArthur Foundation ,Chale Green, Isle of Wight
An integrated approach to reducing carbon and bringing an entire rural off grid community out of fuel poverty. Additionality is provided by the social landlord providing additional funding to ensure the properties are upgraded to Decent Homes + and Ellen MacArthur Foundation supporting the project management and behaviour change elements of the project. The entire village will benefit from the social improvements and a number of PV installations throughout the estate will feed a community managed funding initiative to ensure the project continues to support the village improvements for years to come.

3. Norfolk CC, Reepham, Norfolk
LCCC funding will allow Reepham to reduce its CO2 by 127 tonnes per year by using a community fund to deliver a comprehensive range of projects which target; energy efficient renovation, renewables, transport, behavioural change & food initiatives. The Norfolk County Council scheme is replicable and is well supported by partner organisations, committed community leaders and the wider community.

4. Lammas Low Impact Initiatives Ltd, Pembrokeshire, Wales
The outcome would be a replicable, integrated rural sustainable development model. The focus of the application is a community hub building which will become a hub for the village and a centre for education on low impact living for the wider world. The project will be delivered using a combination of green technologies, permaculture cultivation methods and natural building techniques.

5. Transition Town Totnes, Devon
The proposal will take the form of ‘Transition Streets’, whereby 12 streets across Totnes, chosen so as to represent the demographics and housing stock of Totnes, undertake a programme of behaviour change called ‘Transition Together’. Participants are then eligible to apply for subsidised retrofits and then to a rolling fund for low interest loans for domestic renewables, harnessing feed in tariffs to enable the repayment of the loans.

6. The Meadows Partnership, Nottingham
The Meadows Ozone Energy Services is a company formed by local people in the Meadows and has aspirations to change a inner city area with multiple deprivation levels to become a exemplar to other similar inner city communities. The Meadows has a housing stock of approx 4000 houses with a mixture of housing types including over 1000 Victorian terraced houses that are hard to insulate. The project seeks to demonstrate that low carbon savings can help reduce fuel poverty.

7. Kirklees Council, Huddersfield, Yorkshire
Greening the Gap will involve PV application to three main community centres and 30 domestic houses. This project presents a credible carbon reduction story in a deprived, ethnically diverse area, with a team that have been very successfully in communicating best practice widely.

8. Haringey Council and the Muswell Hill Low Carbon Zone, North London
An integrated application involving a diverse range of interventions and partner organisations. Muswell Hill sustainability group provides strong community leadership with Haringey Council providing support and resources. The application includes PV installations on four schools to be used as a learning tool and to encourage behaviour change, a mobile sustainable learning facility, cycle parking and a community renewable energy company will gain funding to generate income for carbon reduction measures in the community. Much action is already taking place within the Low Carbon Zone.

9. Berwick Core Ltd, Berwick upon Tweed
In conjunction with the Berwick Housing Trust, the funding would be spent on a retro-fit renewable programme which will see the installation of photovoltaic panels installed in 50 houses. The revenues due to the electricity generated would feed into a community fund that would be reinvested for further environmental and social programmes. The remaining £50k would go into the Low Carbon Berwick Programme which will see the implementation of a local action plan including behavioural change initiatives for domestic householders and wider environmental initiatives through Berwick that would be aided via a volunteer work force. It is the ultimate aim of the Low Carbon Programme to establish a Berwick Transition Town.

10. Sustainable Blacon, Chester
Blacon is a suburb of North West Chester adjoining the English/Welsh border. Blacon will champion energy efficiency and refurbish two local houses, so people can see what they can do to cut their bills and have access to advice and practical support for its 16,000 residents. They will also be bringing together local people from across the community installing some of the latest technology in their homes and enable local people to help one another to cut bills and spread good practice through their social networks.

[…] Transition Culture report […]

Lesley LEED AP
21 Dec 7:25pm

Well, this is very exciting! This contest was a great way to get people more involved in sustainability and in the environment. People love competitions. It sounds like this was a very beneficial program, as each step tackled another aspect of sustainability.

Tom Bell
1 Jan 10:55pm

This is all uplifting stuff. Its great to see a real belief in sustainability in Totnes. We can all make a difference so keep it up Devon!

Mike Grenville
19 Feb 12:10am

This is the link to the DECC Press Release with the Phase 2 winners

Hook Norton, near Banbury, Oxfordshire:
The 2500-strong community has been working on reducing its carbon footprint for a number of years. It will spend the money on installing a heat recovery system, solar panels, two community electric pool cars and a ground source heat pump at the local primary school (Hook Norton Church of England Primary School); provide interest free loans for a whole-house retro-fit of six homes; on top of this, it will insulate 40 homes and install solar thermal panels on a further 20; put a bio-diesel tank in the local brewery (Hook Norton Brewery) to supply bio-diesel fuel for the vehicles of 50 households. All these activities will provide income back in to a rolling low carbon fund so that the community can continue to take action for the next 10 years.

Ashton Hayes, near Chester, Cheshire:
Since 2005, Ashton Hayes has been working to become England’s first carbon neutral community and has already cut average household emissions of the 370 homes by 23% since May 2006. It will spend the money on a various renewable generation technologies which will power part of the community. This includes a renewable energy CHP plant and solar panel focused on the school. This will link with measures to encourage energy efficiency via real time displays and demand side management.

Easterside in Middlesbrough:
A mixed tenure estate of 3250 people, is among the top 20% of disadvantaged areas in England. The LCCC funded Eco-Easterside project will save residents money on household bills by reducing energy use. Two wind turbines will be installed in the grounds of Easterside and St Thomas More primary schools, which will in turn generate income for the community from the government’s clean energy cashback scheme. 600 homes will be fitted with energy monitors, and householders will be helped to make sure their homes have adequate insulation. Renewable energy systems – solar hot water and air-source heat pumps – will be fitted to 20 homes. Residents will also be encouraged to reduce carbon emissions by using sustainable modes of transport and growing more of their own food.

Halton, near Lancaster:
Halton is looking to install a hydro turbine into the River Lune, and three solar roofs; and incorporate carbon saving measures in the renovation of Halton Mill, which will provide office and workshop space for local businesses. The profits, generated from the Government’s clean energy cashback scheme, and from rents, will be ploughed back into further carbon reduction projects such as Halton Energy Network which will help households reduce their domestic carbon emissions.

Exmoor National Park in Somerset and Devon:
The LCCC funding will be used to help fund renewable energy projects such as wood pellet heating and solar installations in six communities that have been participating in community sustainable energy planning. One of those communities (Lynton and Lynmouth) is planning to install a community owned hydropower turbine that will generate an income for the community and the fund will help in raising awareness of the scheme amongst potential investors.

Whitehill-Bordon in East Hampshire:
Aims to build on it’s Eco town status by making the money available for people in the form of loans. Residents who take advantage of this will be able to install energy efficiency measures and renewable technologies, to save energy and save money.

Ladock and Grampound Road in mid-Cornwall:
Plan to upgrade homes, schools, community halls and businesses with a combination of energy efficiency measures and microgeneration technology. They will monitor their progress through smart meters to assess the impacts of behaviour change and renewable energy technologies among project participants and the wider community. Any income from clean energy will be fed back into a community fund for further low carbon investment. The project will also see the plantation of a nut grove carbon sequestration project and the installation of an electric vehicle charging point.

Northern Ireland
Intends to build a district heating network based on deep geothermal, biomass and residual heat technologies. This will benefit public buildings, social housing as well as private residences and will reduce fossil fuel use and fuel poverty.

Camphill Community Glencraig:
Plans to install a biomass district heating system using locally sourced wood. This will help to reduce bills and dependence on fossil fuels.

Cwmclydach, nr Pontypridd, South Wales:
Blaenclydach is a former mining village and is one of the most deprived areas in Wales. The money from LCCC will help pay for two small hydro turbines in the nearby Cambrian Country Park which will power two community buildings and, under the government’s Clean Energy Cashback scheme, will generate an income for the community.

Awel Aman Tawe Community Wind Farm in Upper Amman and Swansea Valley, South Wales:
Fuel poverty is a major concern for the 13,500 people living in the 12 villages spread across Neath Port Talbot, Carmarthenshire and Powys. Planning consent has been secured to put two wind turbines with a capacity of 4MW on the Mynydd y Gwrhyd mountain, so the LCCC money will help towards the costs. This will generate enough electricity to supply the annual needs of about 2000 homes and generate an income for the community as a whole through the Government’s clean energy cashback scheme. The community also has plans to open a zero carbon cafe, allotments and a biodiesel pump in the headquarters car park which can be used by members of the public.

Glogue, Hermon and Llanfyrnach, nr Preselli Hills, Pembrokeshire:
The LCCC money will be used to fund two wind turbines which are calculated to generate around £300,000 per year to be ploughed back into further energy saving projects.

19 Feb 9:03pm

we are very pleased up in this area. Money to fund two turbines and Lammas securing money in the first phase.

Margaret Haxby
4 Mar 3:56pm

we live in Totnes and are very interested in becoming more low carbon. We would like to consider installing solar photovoltaic panels, subject to price and property suitability.
Your Third Stage implies that a grant of £3000 could be available, subject to …….
How can we find out more information on whether we might be suitable applicants ?
David and Margaret Haxby tel 01803.867277