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National award for Whittington and Fisherwick Environment Group

An environmental group based near Lichfield has landed a top award for their green efforts.

Whittington and Fisherwick Environment Group (WFEG) has been named as the best Rural Community Project in the Green Community Heroes competition run by the Energy Saving Trust and Act on CO2.

This national recognition comes on top of two regional awards this year – the top community project in the C+ Carbon awards competition run by Business in the Community and the prize for the best Environment and People project in the West Midlands, awarded by RegenWM, the region’s centre of excellence in regeneration.

Whittington and Fisherwick Environment Group

Whittington and Fisherwick Environment Group's website

WFEG have carried out energy health checks of many homes and community buildings in the parish, helped 50 households to install insulation, and set up the country’s first online community carbon footprinting facility on their website in conjunction with local web designers Percept:IS.

Chair of WFEG Mike Kinghan said:

“We are absolutely thrilled with this national recognition of our community’s hard work and determination. We are leading the way for other communities and groups right across the nation. It is vital for the future of humans and wildlife alike that we get our carbon emissions on a steep downward path very quickly. We would love to see a group like this in every community and would be pleased to help others get started.

“Many individuals and organisations have contributed to this award but I would particularly like to pay tribute to our principal sponsors, the Staffordshire Aggregates Levy Grant Scheme, which is managed by Staffordshire County Council, and local company Percept:IS who manage our website and produce our newsletter.”

The group is also working with Whittington School to raise funds for solar panels and a biomass boiler and have helped the Parish Council, Village Hall and Church fund energy-saving projects including low energy lighting and insulation. They have run two hugely successful Big Green Fairs in the Village Hall with a third scheduled for February 6.

WFEG is now aiming even higher by submitting a bid for £500,000 to the Government Department of Energy and Climate Change. DECC are  running  a competition called Low Carbon Communities Challenge to find 20 communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to become beacons for low carbon living.

The group are looking to win funds for new parish energy projects which could include low interest loans and possibly grants for householders for energy efficiency measures and installing renewables like solar panels, heat pumps or biomass boilers, school energy improvements.

Another plan being considered is establishment of energy co-operative to generate power from solar panels and other sources. An electric car car-sharing scheme to help reduce carbon emissions from transport could also be brought forward.

WFEG are also now working with Lichfield District Council and the newly established LoCaL ( Low Carbon Lichfield) to spread the word and encourage the formation of low carbon initiatives in other parishes across the region. They have already made presentations to groups in Tutbury, Stafford and Birmingham.

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