Sustainable Energy in Norham
About 50 people attended the recent meeting in the village hall to learn more about what renewable energy options are likely to be available to Norham and its vicinity in the future.
The County Council Climate Change Team explained their pledge to reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030. This requires an annual reduction in Carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to twice the volume of Kielder water – to be achieved through how they deliver heating; how they promote cleaner air transport; how they develop sustainable energy, and how they manage sequestration and waste disposal. The Council is generally supportive of Norham’s initiative as being one of only two community energy projects in Northumberland at the present time.
GreenCat Renewables presented a summary of their research into the possible options in this area. Primarily they looked at renewable energy solutions for the main community buildings – church, hall, school and Birch Hill. Various possibilities were considered including hydropower, ground and air source heating; biomass technology; solar power; and wind power. The first three of these proved to have less potential than the latter two. The River Tweed does not have enough of a fall locally and there are many other users who enjoyment would be compromised; ground and air source heating are efficient but one requires a fair amount of land and both are cost effective only when buildings are being used all the time rather than episodically.
Solar and Wind power are therefore the recommendations as a mixed option that should provide fully renewable energy in summer and winter.
Land for both proposals has been identified at Watchlaw on Galagate Farm and the landowner is supportive of the schemes. The proposal would be for a single 0.9MW wind turbine 67m (200ft) tall and 8.9MW solar panels covering 14 hectares. The capital cost, for which a commercial partner would be sought, is £1.5m for the turbine and £5.7m for the solar panels. The scheme have to incorporate funding to the community to support further schemes in the village, to promote energy efficiency and generally to benefit the community. The environmental benefit from these schemes would equate to nearly 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. There would be no financial risk to the community from this project. It was made clear that the project would only proceed if there was clear financial benefit to the village.
NDT has applied for a further grant to develop the project through to planning application stage and has heard, since the meeting, that it has been awarded a grant of £35000 which will enable the project to be pursued further whilst seeking further funding.
Overall the feeling of those who attended the meeting was that this was a very positive and constructive project and it was supported.
Further consultation with the community will take place in due course to ensure continued community involvement and support before any final decisions are taken.