Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd, was one of the guest speakers at the Community Solutions to Fuel Poverty Workshop at Sussex Coast College last Friday.
This event was organised by Richard Watson OBE, the director and founder of Energise Sussex Coast, partnered by Amicushorizon, Hastings Borough Council, and Interreg North-West Europe’s Climate Active Neighbourhoods (CAN) Project, with £900,000 funding from the European Union (EU) over the next three years.
This partnership will work with the local community to reduce energy consumption and alleviate fuel poverty in public and private sector housing in the wards of Ore, Baird and Tressell, which have some of the highest concentrations of social rented housing and a rising private rented sector.
The proposed range of solutions include the retrofitting 100 poor performing homes in terms of carbon emissions and high fuel bills, the recruiting and training of community energy champions and technicians; the use of smart technology and time of use tariffs to manage energy demand; the development of a community energy tariff available to local residents; and the launching of a Big Community Energy switching scheme to persuade as many residents as possible to switch tariff or supplier to save an average of £225 a year.
Amber Rudd, who is also the MP for Hastings and Rye, said: “I was delighted to speak at this workshop designed to deal with such an important issue, as I am very much focused on doing everything I can to help constituents reduce their fuel bills.
“I have long been impressed by Richard Watson’s dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to finding ways in which to help individuals who struggle to keep warm or who need help with switching tariff or supplier, and I was so pleased that his invaluable efforts received official recognition by way of a richly deserved OBE.
“Finally, it is fantastic that Hastings will be receiving as much as £900,000 from the EU, which is another reason why I am so firmly in support of staying within the EU.”
Richard Watson OBE, founder of Energise Sussex Coast, said: “The solutions to fuel poverty, climate change, energy and housing are complex but they do overlap in interesting ways, and the CAN project in Hastings is a unique opportunity to demonstrate this.
“What was remarkable at Friday’s workshop was the commitment by so many diverse organisations, from academics, Government and the NHS to community practitioners, as well as the operators of the gas and electricity grids (UKPN and SGN) to collaborate with us and support Hastings in this terrific project that is part funded by the EU.”
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