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£10m for 20 best low carbon communities

The Government has launched a search for local authorities, charities and social enterprises to take up the challenge to help communities fight climate change. Communities can apply for a share of a £10million fund as part of the Low Carbon Communities Challenge to build on existing low carbon schemes.

Around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from heating, lighting and powering electrical appliances in homes. By 2050 this needs to be almost zero if the UK is to cut its emissions by 80% highlighting the importance of local action.

This challenge offers the chance to be in the forefront of moving to a low carbon economy. The twenty successful communities will each receive support to pay for real measures selected by the local residents themselves. These could range from a local biomass plant to retrofitting homes to electric car charge points.

In return for technical and financial assistance, people living and working in the area will work alongside government and contribute to finding low carbon solutions from which the whole country will benefit. Successful outcomes from the project will pave the way for a national roll-out of proven measures.

The Low Carbon Communities Challenge will help communities curb their carbon emissions and encourage economic investment that delivers greater energy efficiency.

A specialist support squad made up of partners with funding and expertise from inside and outside government - including The Energy Saving Trust, The Carbon Trust, WRAP and the third sector - will work together with each community to offer help on anything from negotiating in planning debates to identifying personalised low carbon answers.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, said: "We’re searching for communities across the country to kick start the low carbon revolution. The Challenge is an opportunity for communities to lead the way so that everyone can play their part in tacking climate change and save money on fuel bills.

"The UK has the most ambitious emissions reduction commitments in the world and projects like this will develop the policies we need to be successful.

"With just over two months to go until the crucial climate talks at Copenhagen, the UK is well placed to show it is taking action in all areas to combat climate change."

The twenty communities will act as national blueprints that will be used to inform government policy development and delivery. The direct involvement of these real life working case studies mean lessons can be learned on the ground to ensure future policies achieve the carbon emission cuts we need.

In addition to ongoing evaluation UK research institutions are being invited to participate, to ensure independent analysis of the various communities’ progress. Using its new £6m investment on energy and communities, The Research Council will be inviting academic proposals to come forward which would build on and contribute to the Governments investment.
The Challenge was announced this summer as part of the government’s Low Carbon Transition Plan.

For towns to be eligible they must demonstrate they are already making changes and are committed to developing both infrastructure and behaviour change that results in carbon reduction such as wind farms, electric car infrastructure or home energy refurbishments.
In testing the success of different plans the flagship Low Carbon Communities will provide invaluable research and information on how communities can successfully work together to cut emissions and fight climate change.

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