RESIDENTS came together recently to discuss how households can save on their energy bills whilst protecting the environment, with more people being encouraged to contribute their ideas.

Forest of Dean District Council and partners, including the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Warm and Well, are working with locals to establish the Forest Community Energy, a community forum and group set up to help Forest residents reduce energy bills for businesses, protect the environment and reduce carbon footprints.

The forum came together at an event in Lydney in September (pictured) to talk about a community share offer for solar schemes, a new energy tracking app and home energy efficiency projects.

Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Cllr Chris McFarling, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the activities at our recent Lydney event, gaining new information and meeting others interested in this topic.

“The interest in the project from residents has been brilliant to see and the impact that Forest Community Energy will have on renewable energy in the Forest of Dean will assist greatly in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and the high prices that go with them, whilst achieving our goal of being carbon neutral by 2030.

“Forest Community Energy is about coming together as residents and as a community to tackle the climate and cost of living crisis, with residents working alongside members of the Council and partners to make a real difference across the district.

"This could involve being part of renewable energy installations, using the AURORA Energy Tracker app to help lower yours and your neighbourhoods carbon footprint and energy bills, or simply by contributing your ideas to tackle climate change in the Forest of Dean.

“We’re really excited about the future of Forest Community Energy and would like to hear from anyone interested in the project, so please reach out and get in contact if you’d like to be part of the friendly group, or if you have any questions or ideas that you’d like to put forward.”

The council previously secured funding to support sommunity decarbonisation as part of the EU-led AURORA Project.

In helping to progress the project locally, the Forest Community Energy group is focusing on community solar and energy awareness projects, such as promoting the upcoming community share offer for the rooftop solar PV installation planned for Lydney Leisure Centre and The Dean Academy, and promoting the recently launched AURORA Energy Tracker mobile phone app.

The forum is also working on expanding community solar to other community and commercial buildings around the district and running home energy efficiency projects.

The group is looking for more residents to join and would welcome those interested to get in touch. No experience of renewable energy is required, and they would like to hear from those interested in ways of reducing their carbon footprint and energy bills and those who would like to participate in helping the Forest of Dean achieve carbon neutral status by 2030.

One of the founding group members of Forest Community Energy, local resident Tom Locke, said: “Being involved in Forest Community Energy is a way of individually making a difference to help the climate and community. Everyone has different skills and knowledge to contribute and get involved in activities they are most interested in.

“We meet regularly, both face to face and online and our meetings are fun and friendly and we’d welcome anyone who’d like to get involved to get in contact.”

People who would like to join the group, or to raise an idea or question should email [email protected].

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