Sunday, 31 August 2008

MCFly 6- thanks a million?

First the bad news. A million pounds that Manchester City Council has earmarked for its “Carbon Reduction Innovation and Investment Fund” has sat for almost six months gathering... well, interest (we hope).

The money was announced as part of the Council's 'Climate Change Principles document' in February 2008, and the council hoped that these funds would be matched by 'stakeholders' and partners. That hasn't (yet) happened, and barely a penny has been spent. Meanwhile, CO2 continues to pour into the atmosphere.

Now the good news: The Council has told MCFly that it is within days - or at most weeks - of announcing a series of specific projects that will be funded with that money. These projects are 'commercially-robust' and 'future-proof'. These 'council-ese' words mean that rather than giving away the money via a two week spasm of “come get yer free solar panels,” the money will be spent in ways that are a) self-sustaining, and b) measurable.

The specific criteria for success - whether a reduction in absolute emissions, or 'energy intensity' (amount of carbon per unit of economic activity) - have not been disclosed. Not all the expertise needed for these projects is available 'in-house'. The Council has confirmed that some of the million will be spent on hiring the 'right' consultants, but was not in a position to name names. MCFly speculates that Deloitte,who recently completed the 'mini-Stern' review of Climate Change costs and policies for Manchester Enterprises, may well be in the running.

The Council is also keen that the work it does with the money from the Innovation and Investment Fund fits in with what is happening at the Greater Manchester level. Manchester City Council is only one of ten local authorities within “AGMA”, the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.” In March 2009 the city-wide “Manchester Climate Change Agency”, part of the new Environment Commission, will be opening its doors.

The Council states that it has been learning from other cities that have engaged in low carbon projects, such as Southampton, Birmingham and Aberdeen. Manchester, along with Bristol and Leeds, was also part of central government's “Low Carbon Cities Partnership”

MCFly will keep tabs on this story as it unfolds.

MCFly 6- Hydro-power to the people

Here is the full version of the story that appears in the dead-tree format version of MCFly #6. Comments welcome

An active community in New Mills, Derbyshire has demonstrated what can be achieved with a little innovation and a lot of dedication by launching the UK's first community-funded hydro electric scheme. The basic idea behind the project is to generate green electricity from water running down the local Torr weir (a low dam built across a river to divert/direct flow) on the Goyt river. Torrs Hydro New Mills Limited was also set-up to allow the local community to own the hydro electric scheme which will help regenerate the area and also promote environmental sustainability.

The total cost of the project – around £226,000- was raised through various grants and by selling shares at the cost of £1 with a minimum shareholding of 250. All the four directors are dedicated locals and over 50% of the shareholders are form the New Mills area. Even better, the scheme will have paid for itself in a couple of years as the turbine has a lifespan of around 40years.

Water Power Enterprise- a small social enterprise which encourages the set-up of small-scale hydro plants to reduce carbon emissions- helped to launch the project in 2006 by highlighting the potential of the the Torr weir in the region. The scheme is part of an idea to reclaim and utilise weirs which were built across British rivers in the 18th and 19th centuries to control water flows and drive wheels for nearby mills.

The community-owned Archimedean Screw, which generates electricity from water flowing downhill will produce an estimated 70Kw 45% of the time and will just turn off when river levels are low. Using this calculation, approximately 260,000 Kilowatt hours of electricity will be generated annually through clean and sustainable means- that's enough electricity to power 70 houses. The scheme hopes to eventually supply power to around 18,000 homes. Steve Welsh of Water Power Enterprises stated; “This scheme will save the equivalent of 13 million car miles in its lifetime. It will be a tremendous local resource.”

Torrs Hydro New Mills is also lobbying parliament to change the current legislation around renewable energy and to raise awareness of the current financial imbalance for renewable energy schemes which produce more than 50KWh. They want the changes to encourage a network of communities to embrace hydro-power and tap into renewable resources available through weirs across the North of England. Check this link for more information and to sign the petition:

'Preserve the Torrs' is a website which is campaigning against the development, stating that the “Torrs Riverside Park is a unique asset that makes New Mills distinctive. Yet it is threatened at its heart by a large industrial development in the picnic area. We need to protect this valuable waterfall attraction and preserve it for future generations and the benefit of our town and its visitors.”. For further information see their website:

MCFly 6- Bury Council Warm Front success

MCFly wanted to publish some good news, and saw in the wonderful Crain's Manchester Business that Bury Council had increased the numbers of people taking advantage of free heating/insulation schemes. We contacted Bury, and they very kindly sent us more info-

Warm Front, the Government grant that makes homes warmer, healthier and more energy efficient, helped more people than ever in Bury last year. Figures recently announced showed that 1453 local households received free heating and insulation measures which cost the scheme over £1.5 million, that’s 11% more people receiving help than the previous year.

The Energy Team at Bury Council attribute this to a variety of initiatives, such as promotion specifically targeted towards people who are likely to be eligible for the grant by including energy information in correspondence to those in receipt of council tax benefit or a disability benefit.

An aim of Bury’s affordable warmth strategy is to train front line staff, within the Council and in external agencies, who visit people in their own homes to give them the expertise to recognise vulnerable people living in cold, damp homes and give them a simple means of referring them for energy improvements.

A very successful initiative was undertaken in partnership with Bury PCT whereby people who had been invited for a flu vaccination received a follow up letter offering advice about making energy improvements to their homes using various funding, including Warm Front.

To help Warm Front clients who are unable to pay a client contribution, (the shortfall between the cost of the work and the grant available) Bury Council can, in certain circumstances, fund the contribution on their behalf. Last year, 177 householders received financial help to meet their client contribution at a cost of £83,202 to the Council, grants that may not have gone ahead without this additional assistance.

Gwyn McCarthy
Energy Officer
Bury MBC Energy Show House
150 Willow Street
Bury. BL9 7PS
0161 253 6366

When we get a spare minute, we'll contact Manchester City Council and see how they're doing on this issue...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Manchester Climate Change Agency Bulletin, and the curse of apostrophe's

Too much information, and not enough time, as ever.
One of the reasons we set up Manchester Climate Fortnightly was to deal with just this problem- how to keep track of what matters, and ferret it out, and then present it in useful format.
We're hard at work on issue 6 now, running with three different lead stories, and encountering useful other bits on the way.

One of these is the second bulletin of the "Manchester Climate Change Agency", which is part of the Environment Commission, that will operate at a "Greater Manchester" level.

Here's a quote from that bulletin

A considerable amount of work has been undertaken in the last 12 months covering low carbon activity. Much of this gives a strong starting point for developing a work programme for the agency. This work includes; technical reports, (e.g. Low Carbon Cities Programmes ( LCCP) and Mini-Stern), Consultation (e.g. Mini-Stern, face-to-face meetings with local authority officers and knowledge exchange meetings with the London Development Agency and London Climate Change Agency), and Good Practice Research, (e.g. London Energy Partnership and successful EU funded projects over the last five years through the Energie-Cities network).

We will be pulling this work into a consultation document that we aim to consult on following a meeting of the CCA project board on 20 August. Following consultation on the work programme the board will be prioritising these projects on 25 September in readiness for ratification by AGMA on 31 October.

And you can read the whole thing by going to

PS I was scanning MCFly #5 during a longeur at tonight's rather good debate on the TIF (organised by Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce. I noticed- to my abject dismay and horror- a stray apostrophe in the lead story. "Arm tube device's" indeed. My father, the sub-editor from Hell, will never ever let me forget that!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

It's done! Possibly the best one so far?

But then, we've only done 5, so that's maybe not saying so much.

There are short pieces on four (count 'em- 4!) different stories of interest to Manchester people who are concerned about CC.
1) A report on the biofuels action that took place during Climate Camp
2) The fact that University of Manchester is appointing a "green guru"
3) Manchester Enterprises looking into making MCR a carbon trading hub
4) A chance to respond to the recent "Mini-Stern"

Various people wrote these stories, and the issue was put together by the oldest (in every sense) and newest member of the editorial collective. Much learned about wikis, blogs, scribus etc. Obstacles overcome etc etc, lessons learned...

Would very much appreciate if people took the time to comment on Issue 5, and what should be done to improve it.

PS Thanks to Marc Roberts, for speed above and beyond the call of duty, and of belief...

MCFly 5- out today

My favourite bit of the whole process- stitching together the stories we've got, the cartoon from the wonderful (and absurdly speedy) Marc Roberts, the bet bits of the wikifeed. Sending the pdf off for proofing, then posting and facebooking...

Today I'll be doing this with the newest member of the collective, who has also written one of the stories...