A new scheme will see community groups from all over the UK bid for a share of £8m to install local low carbon heating such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps.
The Department for the Environment and Climate Change said it expected between 50 and 100 projects to receive funding through the scheme, with applications being judged on a range of criteria, including “the project’s vision, potential benefits for the local area, potential partners and any relevant experience of delivering similar projects”. Winners will be announced in December.
All community-based organisations including community co-operatives, voluntary groups, social enterprises and development trusts will be eligible to apply for a share of the fund with which to reduce carbon in the home.
Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: "Clean green generation at a local level is a key part of our energy future and I hope that communities of all shapes and sizes will get on board and take advantage of all this scheme has to offer."
Phillip Sellwood, pictured, CEO at the Energy Saving Trust said: "Working together can make the process of upgrading to renewable heating easier and more affordable for everyone. This scheme will provide a great opportunity for community groups to prove once again that they can have a real impact in reducing carbon emissions and energy costs in their homes, whilst empowering communities to be more sustainable."
Community groups will need to submit a first stage application to the Energy Saving Trust by 7 September 2012. Applications will be judged on a range of criteria, including the project’s vision, potential benefits for the local area, potential partners and any relevant experience of delivering similar projects.
'Community' is defined as a project led by a not for profit organisation for community benefit. Barker added: “The Coalition pledged to ;support community ownership of renewable energy schemes’ and we have said on many occasions that local people are best placed to decide what is best for their communities. Schemes such as LEAF have enabled communities to act on this and be at the forefront, playing their part in effectively delivering these priorities at a local level.
"Communities have much to gain aside from the evident carbon benefits and energy bills savings. It has been shown that communities working together on low carbon energy projects enhance trust between local people and local organisations. This is a strong foundation to build future local capacity and further collective action.
"It is clear to me that communities and a decentralised approach to energy generation is at the heart of any real long-term solution to climate change and the reduction of our carbon emissions.
"But I would like to go further. I’ve seen the way these local schemes bring neighbourhoods closer together. I’ve seen them build greater community cohesion. I’ve seen them catalyse new local projects that embed sustainability and resource efficiency and drive greater sense of responsibility.
"Decentralised energy efficiency is a great thing. Not just a means to an end. I hope that communities of all shapes and sizes will get on board and take advantage of all this scheme has to offer."