From SARAH LONSDALE
The Telegraph UK
Thanks to Linda Sanders
“If you forget to put limits on people and assume that they are capable of fantastic things, then the impossible becomes possible,” said Michael Butterfield, who spearheads the Green Streets.
Llangattock is a small village scattered along a fold in the Brecon Beacon mountains – the softly wooded slopes, high hay meadows and streams making the area one of the loveliest parts of Britain.
The 1,300 inhabitants in the 420 homes have, however, more than the view to be proud of. They are on track to making Llangattock Britain’s first ”carbon-negative community” by 2015. This is no new eco town, but an established settlement alongside the River Usk with a mixture of traditional hill farms and 20th-century bungalows. Yet with energy-saving and energy-creating measures, the community has shown what can be achieved when everyone pulls together.
The woodland group manages and coppices 20 acres of mostly ash and alder for the village’s wood-burning stoves; the residential group coordinates distribution of home energy-saving devices from insulation to solar panels. In just one year, 55 homes will have solar panels installed on their roofs.
The 74-member bio-diesel group collects chip fat from restaurants and has converted more than 11,000 litres of fuel, saving 29 tons of carbon dioxide; 60 families tend a field of new allotments and have resurrected the village fête; and the hydro group is forging ahead with six small-scale hydroelectric schemes on the streams around the village.
Larger projects, such as a woodchip district heating scheme and an anaerobic digester, fed with grass and slurry waste from local farms, that will earn the village an income, are also under way.
But how has a small village with a disparate and fairly elderly population pulled off such an achievement?
Almost exactly a year ago, the village won the Welsh heat of British Gas’s Green Streets competition, run to find the ”greenest” communities in Britain. The win provided £137,400 of grants from British Gas, and other grants and earnings have made a total income for the village of £575,000.