Glastonbury officials reaffirm commitment to improving environment through Town Deal as COP26 concludes
By Tim Lethaby
11th Nov 2021 | Local News
Public officials in Glastonbury have reaffirmed their commitment to improving the environment through the town deal as the COP26 conference on climate change comes to an end.
Glastonbury was one of 101 UK towns – and one of only two in Somerset – to receive funding from the government's towns fund, as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP's 'levelling up' agenda.
A total of £23.6M has been committed to a dozen projects in and around the town centre, which are designed to regenerate the area and work towards making Glastonbury a carbon-neutral town by 2030.
The Glastonbury town deal board has now reiterated these commitments, arguing the projects will play a vital role in achieving this goal.
One of the 12 projects include in the town investment plan (TIP) is the Glastonbury Clean Energy project, which aims to generate renewable energy for use by the other projects – such as the enterprise and innovation centre in Beckery House, and the new community hub at St Dunstan's House.
The project will be delivered by Avalon Community Energy in collaboration with Mendip District Council, Glastonbury Town Council and other partners, with the profits being reinvested in the local community.
Avalon Community Energy chairman Stewart Crocker said: "Despite global leaders at COP26 recognising the need for action, and indeed the consequences if we don't make the necessary changes, the time-scales being discussed are far too far into the future.
"We need to be addressing climate change as the top priority now, finding practical solutions that rapidly drive down carbon emissions, including harnessing renewable energy, so we can create a much more sustainable way of life, now and into the future.
"Through the Glastonbury Clean Energy project, that's exactly what we plan to do, and if it all goes ahead as intended we should be generating clean energy to begin powering local businesses and organisations within three years, as well as electric vehicle charging facilities.
"The Glastonbury town deal investment is the key to making this happen and it's an exceptional opportunity for the town.
"We truly hope it will provide a beacon of good practice to inspire others around the country to replicate what we'll be doing here in Glastonbury."
One of the other projects which will directly benefit from Glastonbury Clean Energy is The Life Factory project, which forms part of the proposed Building C regeneration at the Red Brick Building on the A39 Street Road.
Project manager Rob Poizer said: "Although the COP26 discussions seemed to some extent positive, the time-scales are a grave concern.
"The gritty reality is that climate change is already having a significant impact across the world, so we need to focus on where we are right now, not in decades to come.
"Within our society, we largely understand what we need to do to make the necessary changes but the urgency is lacking.
"Most of us still don't appear to be taking the steps needed and making the underlying cultural shifts required to address this. But the potential funding that's available through the Glastonbury town deal can provide a springboard for Glastonbury.
"A small example is that we have installed air source heat pumps in Building C and the town deal investment would enable us, among other things, to get these powered by renewable energy that's generated only 50 yards away, through wind, solar or anaerobic digestion.
"This sort of thinking is already very much in line with the ambitions of the Glastonbury community, but this exciting funding opportunity could really see us convert this into action."
District council leader Ros Wyke added: "We cannot ignore the urgent needs of the environment. We must find ways to help and encourage our businesses to grow and prosper in an energy-efficient way, post-pandemic.
"The Glastonbury town deal will see projects being developed that will create self-financing green jobs and enough energy to run additional projects. Any financial surpluses will stay within the town to help finance the needs of future generations of businesses and community facilities.
"This is a time of recovery, of opportunity and renewal. We're not just building back; we're building back greener. We are working hard to achieve the very best for this district, its people, and the planet."
For further information on all 12 town deal projects, visit www.mendip.gov.uk/glastotowndeal.