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30 December 2013 - Belper in Transition – A Communities Perspective

On the 10th January a range of people representing a variety of community groups, public and private sector organisations will get the opportunity to hear, first hand, from Tesco’s to understand their plans for the acres of land, mostly now derelict, that they own between the A6 and the River Derwent in Belper.

Tesco’s are coming to town as a result of a meeting in the summer when Belper’s MP, Pauline Latham, met with the then Chair of Transition Belper, Ian Jackson, to learn about the activities of Transition Belper and the wider Transition Network which at the last count has over 1,100 active groups in 43 countries. In everything we do we as a community, we are finding ways to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, helping to reduce the impact of climate change and meeting the challenges of risings fuel costs, including the cost of transport, that impacts on our personal travel but also goods, such as food, that we need and use everyday.

During the discussion many of the projects Transition Belper are engaged in such as the ‘free to attend’ Belper Goes Green festival, the first Derbyshire Youth Market, our Energy Expert Neighbour Network, adopting Belper Train Station, Totally Locally Belper and the setting up of a social enterprise, ADVyCE Ltd, to install and generate renewable energy with a Hydro system on the River Derwent, were discussed. All of the projects involve volunteers from the group but, as importantly, work with existing community groups and organisations, such as the Rugby Club, the Cooperative Bank, Glow-worm, the Rotary Club, the World Heritage team and many more.

A lot of people are putting a tremendous effort into making Belper a more sustainable and resilient town, with events such as the ever expanding Food Fairs, the Arts Festival and Discovery Days, but there is some frustration that there are some major opportunities that we, as the Belper Community, feel we can’t influence, such as the derelict land owned by Tesco’s or the poorly utilised Mills. We also hear rumours of projects ‘waiting’ to progress such as new libraries, leisure centres or care homes.
When Pauline Latham MP asked the question, ‘Is there anything I can do to help Transition Belper take the next step?’ the idea of getting the community ‘doers’, local authorities, business leaders, public sector organisations and land owners in a room together to share our ideas and visions for Belper arose.

In October 2013 we met in the St Johns Chapel, Belper, and whilst there were a few people and organisations missing the turnout was great and the stories and visions shared were inspiring. It was a chance for many people and organisations to meet each other and network. Examples of this were the many groups hearing about the great work of Hope for Belper and the food bank they were running locally, and also hearing from Slenderella, a local manufacturer who would like to expand their operations but could not find a suitable location in town.

Whilst we all seemed to share a view of the community coming together to make the town more sustainable and resilient there were practical barriers for us to move projects and ideas forward, one of which is understanding what land is owned by Tesco’s and what their plans are for it. Taking inspiration from other projects such as ATMOS in Totnes (home of the original Transition Town) where the local community have engaged with Dairy Crest which owns a derelict site in the town, and the Energy Village in Sherwood, a low carbon development of a former pit site, Pauline Latham MP took the task away to invite Tesco’s to come and engage with us about how we can change things for the better in Belper.

One of Belper’s key strengths is the world heritage North Mill, an innovative building in its time that generated economic growth in the area utilising renewable Hydro Power from the River Derwent. We believe this should form the inspiration for a new development on the current derelict site that will be both innovative and low carbon.

In 2012 a Supplementary Planning Document and Development Brief was adopted, prepared by Amber Valley Borough Council following significant consultation with the community of Belper. This is a great source of information to pull a project together.

We believe a community led redevelopment of the site will help strengthen Belper and, with mixed usage of the site, build on existing strengths such as our sports clubs, independent shopping offering and world heritage status but also fill Belper’s remaining gaps.

During our first meeting in October we talked about possibly bringing a Further Education centre to the site, relocating the library or homes for the elderly near the town centre. Also the possibility of a market garden, improved youth facilities or even a refurbished theatre.

The important point for Transition Belper and all of Belper’s community groups is that, individually, it will be difficult for any group or organisation to make their projects come to fruition on the site. If we all work together on a community led development we can change the derelict site into a development that Belper and its community all benefit from and are rightly proud of.

Transition Belper have an active Facebook site and would welcome thoughts and ideas about a community led development of the Tesco’s owned site.
Transition Belper’s monthly meeting on Tuesday 14th January – 7.30pm at Strutts Community Centre, Derby Road, Belper – will discuss the meeting with Tesco’s as well as hear from guest speaker, Jerome Baddley, from Nottingham Energy Partnership who will update our knowledge of climate change and dwindling natural resources and how their effects are intertwined.

29 June 2012 - Belper community group win could spark surge in UK-wide renewable energy

A Belper group has powered its way to the top of a major new national competition designed to energise the community-owned energy sector and bring about a clean energy revolution across the UK.

The “Community Energy Challenge” - launched by The Co-operative in conjunction with the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) - has confirmed Transition Belper as one of seven groups across the UK selected to share £200,000 of support including specialist mentoring, enterprise development and technical advice.

The Co-operative wants to see a dramatic increase in community owned renewable energy generation and Transition Belper, dedicated to tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions, beat-off competition from over 120 other hopefuls to win the innovative competition which will support and showcase the nation’s community energy champions - demonstrating replicable technologies and the benefits of community ownership that can leave a lasting legacy for the next generation.

Ian Jackson of Transition Belper said: “We are absolutely delighted. The expertise and support will make a significant difference to our aims of exploring and developing community-owned and run hydro power projects in the Derwent Valley world heritage corridor between Cromford and Derby.
“We believe that renewable energy and carbon reduction programmes would be great news for communities - giving people a say in the generation of energy locally while delivering wider social and environmental benefits. We want to encourage the broadest possible community participation and are keen to hear from members of the public who want to become more involved or, who have ideas about potential sites for hydro power generation.

Paul Monaghan, The Co-operative’s Head of Social Goals, said: “The Co-operative’s investment can help to unlock the significant potential that community-owned renewable energy has to offer.

“Community energy can deliver local economic and social benefits in addition to helping the UK to meet its energy and climate change goals however, it can encounter many barriers. Through this competition we will share expertise and provide the tools needed to enable communities to overcome those obstacles and allow them to control, generate and benefit from their own renewable energy.

“Ambitious community-led projects can contribute to a step-change in people’s thinking about energy and, inspire others to take action – we hope to provide a catalyst for a clean energy revolution across the UK.

The Community Energy Challenge will nurture community projects until they are ready for further investment and build. They will then be eligible for other assistance from The Co-operative including The Co-operative Enterprise Hub’s revolving £400,000 fund to underwrite community share offers, and finance from The Co-operative Bank which has ear-marked £100 million for community renewables.

For further information about Transition Belper email or call 07773 667316.
Community groups interested in co-operative solutions to the running of business and services can contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub by visiting

7th February 2012
Transition Belper win national funding bid, supporting community action on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

On Monday 6th February, Transition Belper learnt they were one of the 155 community groups in the UK to win a share of the Local Energy Assessment Fund – seeding community energy action. Winning the bid will allow the Belper group to complete several projects to help accelerate Belper’s progress to becoming a lower carbon community, where energy supply is both secure and affordable. With the projects listed below Belper will better understand its potential for improvements in energy efficiency and local deployment of renewable energy.

  • An aerial thermal survey of Belper to identify buildings leaking heat.
  • A desk top Solar PV opportunities survey for Belper.
  • A hydro power opportunities survey for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site corridor (from Masson Mills to the Silk Mill).
  • A solid wall insulation case study and show home.
  • Produce a Planning guidance document on the installation of energy saving measures and renewable energy generation equipment in the World Heritage Corridor.
  • Training for the first 10 Energy Expert Neighbour volunteers.

The total value of the projects, that must be completed by the 31st March 2012, is over £50,000.
The project team of Ian Jackson, David George and Richard Keighley are thrilled to have won this funding. Energy Group leader, David George said “This is an example of what can be achieved through a small group of people showing vision, ambition and commitment. Imagine what the whole community of Belper could achieve together”.

The LEAF funding, from the government (only announced in December 2011), was worked on by the team over the Christmas period and submitted by the 20th January deadline, supported by the Amber Valley Borough Council.
The bid submission included letters of support from the Belper Civic Forum, The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage team, Belper Town Council and Pauline Latham MP.

Public Meeting
A public meeting is already planned starting at 7:30pm on the 16th February at the Strutts Community Centre at which the Transition Belper Energy Group will be offering support and advice on how to Save Energy, Reduce Bills, benefit from existing support schemes and learn about the new Green Deal, supported by National Energy Action - a charity dedicated to reducing fuel poverty. They will also be announcing more details of the funding bid win at the meeting. All members of the public are welcome to attend, free of charge.

A follow up public meeting will be organised at the end of the project to share the results of the surveys and discuss the plans for the future. The Transition Belper group is keen for as many people in Belper to get involved in, and benefit from this work.

To get on the regular electronic newsletter and find out what’s happening just send your details to . You can also keep up with activities and events planned by checking out the new Transition Belper website .

In the coming weeks Transition Belper have organised a meeting with a speaker from the NEA explaining the issues of affordable warmth and the Green Deal, informal Green Drinks evenings (including a Climate Change quiz during Climate Week in March) and a Skills Share workshop ‘Hand Spinning Yarns’. The group also have an active Facebook site (Transition Belper), linked to Belper’s Fruit and Veg Forum.

Transition Belper is a group of local volunteers whose purpose is to respond to the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change by developing resilience at a community level.

20th December 2011
Recognition from the Transition Network

On 20th December 2011 we received notification that Transition Belper has moved beyond the 'Mulling' stage (as in 'mulling things over') and been officially recognised by the Transition Network as an official Transition Town. This news is most rewarding for those few individuals who kicked everything off barely 2 years earlier and a vindication of all the hard work (and play) that has gone into developing the group.

You can see the Transition Belper page on the Transition Network web site:

16th November 2011
Energy Expert Neighbour scheme plans announced

A scheme has been launched to urge people to pass on good energy advice to their neighbours.

Transition Belper has been set up by a group of volunteers who want to see the town become more self-sufficient. This will include using energy produced locally, food from nearby farms and a "waste not, want not" attitude.

Ian Jackson, chairman of the group, said: "To train 71 people is our long-term goal, it will take us around a year to get to that number. We have teamed up with Groundwork Trust to work with people in the area, who don't have a gas supply, to fit them with energy-saving measures. We want to help everyone in the community be more energy efficient which will save them money and help the environment."

The scheme will work like a Neighbourhood Watch.
Mr Jackson said: "Having your neighbour talk to you about energy savings would be much better than having someone from British Gas telling you about it. We want people to be friendly and offer informal advice."

The team will be trained to give advice on different tariffs available, climate change and how to stay energy efficient.

Mr Jackson, who runs Develop Your Ltd, a business improvement consultancy, said: "I became involved with Transition Belper around 18 months ago after seeing their stall at the Belper Food and Drink fair. They were talking about climate change and the issues surrounding oil. They were telling residents about what could be done in Belper to help the situation. It's a local organisation to help local people and local issues."

The group believes the world has reached its peak for the extraction of oil and that supply will begin to decline until it runs out. Its members say recent sharp rises in petrol prices are evidence of this.
Mr Jackson said: "Whether it is promotion of local renewable energy generation – like hydro power at East Mill – helping energy efficiency efforts at home or helping reduce the impact of car emissions, as a community we can make a difference."

Transition Belper holds its meetings at the Strutt Centre in Derby Road, on the first Thursday of the month, starting at 7.30pm.
Mr Jackson said: "We went to the town council to tell them of our ideas and plans for the future and their feedback was very positive. As a group we know a lot about energy efficiency and climate change and we are being recognised for that." 

1 November 2011
National Charity and Department for Energy and Climate Change support Transition Belper plans

National Energy Action (NEA) – a charity that aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor or vulnerable – are being funded by DECC to provide guidance and support to 10 projects across the country.  The Green Deal and Affordable Warmth Practical Assistance Programme aims to prepare organisations to use the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) to meet local and national fuel poverty targets.

In September we submitted a bid for NEA’s support for our proposals to reach out to the community through publicity, public meetings, events and a network of ‘Energy Expert Neighbours’. In early November we received the news that our bid had been one of the 10 successful submissions from the whole country and the only community group to be selected. The selection process was undertaken jointly between NEA and DECC officials.

On 17th November Ian Jackson and David George met with NEA as well as Amber Valley Council and Groundwork Derby and Derbyshire to discuss the programme and how NEA’s time – up to 15 days – could be used to further our plans and be prepared for the launch of the Green Deal in a year’s time.

NEA are currently preparing a proposal for a work programme to be completed by the end of March. The results of the project and any lessons learned will be summarised to inform DECC of some of the more practical implications of the Green Deal and to provide a case study for community groups and councils across the country. NEA’s wealth of knowledge and experience should be invaluable when it comes to getting residents involved and in talking to energy companies and other big players about what assistance they can provide to low income households and those in older solid walled houses or with no access to mains gas that are difficult to heat economically.

13 October 2011
Hydro Power Study needs help

Climate East Midlands, the Environment Agency and local authorities are carrying out an in-depth study of existing river barriers and fish movement.  The aim is to support the development of potential for hydro-electric power generation in the East Midlands and improve fish movement in our rivers network. The study will, ideally, include site surveys of all the man-made and natural river barriers, such as weirs and waterfalls. This is a huge undertaking – there are 431 barriers identified in the Derwent catchment area alone (the initial pilot project area) and Climate East Midlands are calling for volunteers to carry out surveys in as many locations as possible by the end of October.

Transition Belper – a community group dedicated to tackling the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change in a local context – have stepped forward to co-ordinate surveys in Amber Valley area where there are 69 river barriers. There are barriers/weirs in the River Derwent, River Ecclesbourne, Kedleston Hall, River Amber, Markeaton Brook, Black Brook, and Pendleton Brook in the Amber Valley region.

Members of the Transition Belper group are carrying out the initials surveys but help is needed and we are appealing to anglers, in particular, who may be able to provide more detailed local knowledge of the breed, quantity and movement of fish locally. We would also like to talk to local landowners with weirs on their land. If you are interested in helping out and making a positive contribution to a future less reliant on fossil fuels please email Transition Belper.

See also: Renewable Energy in Belper



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