RESIDENTS and businesses in the Forest will be supported to lower their individual carbon footprints as part of a European project to tackle climate change.
The Forest of Dean district will be used as a case study in the EU-funded Aurora project, which is aiming to help communities reduce their impact on the environment and offset their carbon emissions.
As the only UK council involved in the project, which is being led by The Technical University of Madrid, Forest of Dean District Council (FODDC) will establish a "local energy community" which will use technology to help make people aware of their energy usage.
The council will also develop a community share offer which will allow people to invest in renewable energy.
The project is funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, which supports research and innovation across Europe, and other UK partners include Bristol-based charity CSE (Centre for Sustainable Energy) and environmental consultant Martin Brocklehurst, who is based in Kempley Green.
FODDC will be able to claim up to €250,000 for its work on the project, which will start this month and will run for three years.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Hiett, said: "As the only council in the UK involved in the project this is an incredible opportunity for the Forest of Dean and its residents.
"To be able to actively support individuals in addressing and cutting carbon emissions in the Forest of Dean is a huge step forward and we can’t wait to share this with residents, as well as working closely with UK and European partners on the project.
"I’d like to personally thank all staff involved in helping us secure this funding and look forward to making a real difference by reducing carbon in the Forest."
Through the project, the council will first establish a local energy community of 1500 people through the use of an online survey.
The community will pilot the use of an energy awareness app developed by project partners, which will enable residents, schools and businesses to view their individual carbon footprints and take steps to reduce them.
The council will also set up a community energy share offer, which will allow residents to invest in solar PV sites to offset their carbon emissions.
Energy communities will be encouraged to set out local priorities, or roadmaps, to support carbon neutrality at local community level.
The project will also enable people to build their own simple energy efficiency sensors for their homes.
The council says the project will support its aim of the district as a whole reaching carbon neutrality by 2030.
Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Chris McFarling, said: "Although in its infancy, we are very excited about joining this project and the opportunities that this opens up.
"We’re always looking at opportunities to help address the climate emergency in the area and by working with partners across Europe on this project we will be engaging with local residents, schools and businesses to increase awareness of the importance of reducing individual carbon footprints at home, at work and in their communities.
"While the District Council has a clear objective of reaching net-zero carbon in all council-managed operations by 2030, there is also the need for the district as a whole to get there too.
"This project and the work of the partnership and local energy communities will be vital in helping meet this challenge."
The council will now look to appoint a Project Officer to lead the work.
More information about the project can be found on the council’s website.