As COP26 draws to a close, leaders involved in the Glastonbury Town Deal are highlighting the important role that the investment could play in helping to tackle climate change.
The town is set to benefit from £23.6m of investment from the government’s Town Deal Fund scheme, funding the 12 projects outlined in the Glastonbury Town Investment Plan. One of the key objectives in this Plan is to ‘Tackle climate change and contribute towards Glastonbury becoming a carbon neutral town by 2030’ – a commitment that has been jointly made by Glastonbury Town Council and Mendip District Council.
At the heart of the Town Investment Plan is the Glastonbury Clean Energy project, which aims to generate renewable energy for use by many of the other projects within the Plan, as well as other local businesses and residents. The Clean Energy project will be delivered by Avalon Community Energy in collaboration with Mendip District Council, Glastonbury Town Council, other Town Deal projects, Beckery Island businesses, community organisations and landowners.
Stewart Crocker, Chair of Avalon Community Energy, said: “Despite global leaders at COP26 recognising the need for action, and indeed the consequences if we don’t make the necessary changes, the timescales 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 many Town Investment Plan projects that would benefit directly from the renewable energy produced by Glastonbury Clean Energy is The Life Factory project, which forms part of the proposed Building C regeneration at the Red Brick Building.
Rob Poizer, Project Manager at The Life Factory, said: “Although the COP26 discussions seemed to some extent positive, the timescales 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.”
Cllr Ros Wyke, Leader of Mendip District Council, said: “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.
“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. Mendip is working hard achieve the very best for this District, its people, and the planet.”
Glastonbury is one of 101 towns in the UK to receive investment as part of the government’s Town Deal Fund scheme. Set to bring £23.6m of investment into the town, it received the highest award in the South West and one of the highest per capita in England.
The Glastonbury Town Investment Plan was developed by the Town Deal Board through engagement with key partners, businesses, community groups and Mendip District Council as the lead authority. It aims to deliver a necessary ‘levelling up’ opportunity for the town, bringing existing assets back into community use, and working with local communities to develop the spaces and resources that they want and need. The overall aim is for Glastonbury to be a sustainable, prosperous, modern town and global tourist centre, drawing on its rural landscape, history and unique legacy.
For further information, visit: www.mendip.gov.uk/glastotowndeal
Read the published TIP here: www.mendip.gov.uk/towninvestmentplan