I am very happy to report that the Government has re-opened the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF). The Fund is a £10 million programme to support rural communities in England to develop community-based renewable energy projects.
The Fund provides support in two stages. In the first stage, there are grants of up to £40,000 for feasibility studies to test out clean energy ideas.
If the studies show that the project idea is viable, then grants of up to £100,000 will be offered in the second stage to assist with development and planning.
This Fund will allow more local communities within the Forest of Dean to actively partake in finding local energy solutions, saving on energy bills, reducing emissions and bringing in money that can be invested back into the community.
The RCEF has already helped over 150 rural communities plan projects which will support them to become cleaner and more sustainable.
If you would like to register your interest for the scheme, or would like further information, please contact the South West Local Energy Hub by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The re-opening of the RCEF comes as part of a wider, government-led drive to combat climate change. Since 2010, the UK has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 25% - this is faster than any other G20 country.
Whilst many positive steps have been taken, I realise there is more to do and the urgency of addressing this has been stressed to me by many individuals and groups that I have met with in the Forest.
I understand the importance of this message for future generations, which is why I supported my Gloucestershire colleague Alex Chalk MP, as he introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to Parliament mandating that the UK reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And I was pleased that both Houses of Parliament have now voted to put this world-leading target into law.
It is important to remember that local communities and businesses, across the country, have a key role in achieving this target. If you have an idea for a renewable energy project – please apply for a grant from the RCEF.