Three Rivers to accelerate climate action thanks to nearly £300,000 funding boost

NewsUpdated: 24 May 2023Environment and Climate Emergency
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Several unique projects that will help accelerate tackling climate change and reaching Three Rivers District Council’s net-zero targets have been awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds in grant money.

The council, together with the National Energy Foundation (NEF) and Grand Union Community Energy (GUCE), were awarded £298,000 from the ‘Fast Followers’ funding from Innovate UK – the UK’s national innovation agency – which aims to advance local progress towards net-zero and help unlock the barriers to building a greener future.

Three Rivers District Council and its partners are one of just 21 projects nationally to have been awarded the innovation funding following a competitive bid process.

The funding will be used to deliver a range of innovative programmes centred on accelerating retrofit over two years. These will support achievement of the council’s net-zero goals while delivering economic, health and wellbeing, and environmental benefits.

One of the projects will use grant funding to enable the council to conduct a detailed review of the innovative green finance options available to fund the retrofit of its buildings. Energy use in council buildings contributes to almost half of the council’s overall emissions, therefore finding ways to finance the improvements needed to reduce these emissions is key to achieving its net-zero target of 2030 for council operations.

The second project will focus on furthering progress towards a carbon neutral District by 2045 by addressing the 28% of District emissions arising from home energy use through energy-saving home retrofits. This project will create a pioneering "Retrofit One Stop Shop" service delivered by independent charity, the National Energy Foundation.

The service will offer free, expert, and bespoke retrofit advice to residents, develop a trusted local retrofit supplier network, and identify innovative funding solutions for residents who are not eligible for funding under current Government grant schemes.  GUCE will support this project by inspiring community engagement with retrofit and other sustainability improvements such as water conservation, waste reduction and biodiversity enhancements, throughout the District.

Cllr Jon Tankard, Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change, and Sustainability, said: “We take tackling the climate emergency and reaching our net-zero targets very seriously as a council and welcome funding and projects that will help us to achieve this.

“We are thrilled to have won Fast Followers funding from Innovate UK. The funding represents a unique opportunity to pilot a number of innovative projects which will help to overcome some major barriers to achieving net-zero, and accelerate not only local progress towards tackling the climate emergency, but educate and assist on a national level, the route map to Net Zero."

The National Energy Foundation’s CEO, Dave Evans, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we will be supporting Three Rivers with the Fast Followers programme. We know that now, more than ever, people need our collective support to improve energy efficiency in the home. This service will expand on the significant impact we have had working in partnership with Three Rivers over the last few years and will allow us to develop a comprehensive service to empower households to take action. We're here, and we're ready to help!”

GUCE Chair, John Bell commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Three Rivers and NEF to get on with the business of helping people warm their homes without breaking the bank and to reduce our impact on nature at the same time.  This project represents a great chance to get on with the job of lowering emissions.”

GUCE Development Officer, Sarah Burgess added: "We've seen the success of the Transition Streets programme on individuals and communities across the world and are excited to be rolling this out to TRDC residents, along with new ways to fund community renewable energy projects."