We welcome five new community groups to our network

Our community groups are at the heart of Low Carbon Hub’s work across Oxfordshire and continue to be inspirational in tackling climate change.

We have just welcomed five new groups, from rural South Oxfordshire to bustling Kidlington, to our network of low carbon community groups, bringing the total to 46.  

Burford BEAgles

Burford Environmental Action Group (otherwise known as the BEAgles) are a group of active residents in Burford and the surrounding villages, who came together in 2021. They meet regularly to find solutions to the climate and nature crisis and build local support for a sustainable future. 

The members are involved in activities such as the community allotment, repair cafes and promoting energy saving measures in homes and buildings. They attended our thermal imaging training session and have already borrowed one of Low Carbon Hub’s thermal imaging cameras to carry out a thermal imaging campaign in the community. They gathered useful information on the heat loss of the local housing stock and can now use that information to advise householders on funding available for energy saving measures in the home, such as the Home Upgrade Grant. 

The group feel that nothing short of a revolution is needed in how we approach our future energy system, and they are hosting a discussion on 10 June, as part of the Burford festival, to debate how small towns can meet the challenge of Net Zero and the energy challenges of the future: “An oil-free Burford? How a small Oxfordshire town can approach Net Zero”. Find out more about the event.

Kidlington Eco Group (KEG)

Kidlington Eco Group is a network of ecologically minded organisations, church groups and individuals, who formed in 2022 to work together towards a greener community in Kidlington in Cherwell. Kidlington is one of England’s largest villages with a housing stock ranging from 17C homes in a conservation area, to 1920’s garden city homes, and modern newly built estates. 

A key aim of the group is to raise awareness of energy efficiency in houses and buildings, by supporting local people with advice on how to save energy and lower fuel bills. They do this by working with Low Carbon Hub’s Energy Champion, and the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire team at the annual No Waste Noel event, organised with Cherwell Collective at Exeter Hall in Kidlington. 

One of the great benefits of Low Carbon Hub’s network of community groups is the willingness of groups to support each other and share information and experience. KEG were inspired by Sustainable Wantage to begin training a team of Draughtbusters in the area to implement simple energy efficiency measures in peoples’ homes. They used a small grant from Low Carbon Hub and funding from the parish council to get the project going. Thame Green Living provided advice and guidance based on the Thame Green Living Plan.  

One Planet Abingdon

One Planet Abingdon was set up as a community group using the guidelines from the One Planet Living Framework developed by Bioregional and WWF. Their aim is to help create an environment where everyone in the town would be focused on living within the earth’s resources.  

With support from Abingdon Town Council, the group were able to create a Climate Emergency Centre in the basement of the County Hall Museum, in the heart of the town. The space is now an inspiring community hub, run mainly by committed volunteers, where over 4,000 visitors have dropped in to find information and advice on all aspects of the climate emergency.   

One Planet Abingdon work with Low Carbon Hub’s Energy Advisor and have helped to raise awareness of the importance of reducing gas and electricity consumption, to help people keep warm, reduce their bills and cut carbon emissions. They share information with the community on different approaches to home retrofitting, ranging from Cosy Homes Oxfordshire’s Whole House Plan to funding options from the Home Upgrade Grant. 

The group emphasise the importance of involving young people in the fight against climate change and have received funding from local organisations to set up a series of creative workshops designed to appeal to younger people. A hands-on sustainable fashion workshop has led to an exhibition by the young participants, which is touring Oxfordshire. 

They also help local schools to set up Eco Clubs and have over 50 young people engaged in planning eco events in Abingdon. 

Freeland Energy Group (FEG)

In 2023 a small group of residents, united by the desire to tackle climate change, got together to form Freeland Energy Group, to encourage energy reduction and increase renewable energy generation in the Freeland area of West Oxfordshire. The group were originally part of an initiative begun by Freeland Parish Council, called Resilient Freeland that considered all aspects of climate change, including nature recovery, energy efficiency, recycling and transport.  

Freeland Energy Group are an important part of the Community Action Plan for Zero Carbon Energy (CAPZero), which aims to implement the first local energy action plan at a community level, in the Cuckoo Lane Primary Substation Area (PSA). Freeland is one of eight parishes that make up the PSA but is the only Parish to lie entirely within the area.  

Four members of the group took part in one of Low Carbon Hub’s thermal imaging training sessions, which gave them the skills to undertake a thermal imaging project. They have already analysed over 60 houses and plan to continue the project in the Autumn when the weather gets colder. They are now involved in raising awareness of CAPZero among householders and businesses in the area to encourage the take up of energy reduction measures. 

FEG have recently launched a competition for young people in the community to design their first logo. They are offering a reward of up to £100 worth of book tokens.  

Hardwick Community Energy  

Hardwick Community Energy are based at Hardwick Estate, an organic, sustainably managed family-run rural estate covering 900 acres in the Chiltern hills in South Oxfordshire. It comprises Hardwick Hall, several farming and educational enterprises, 430 acres of mixed forestry, and is home to a small community of people living and working on the estate.  

Hardwick Energy Group formed in November 2022 to reduce the energy consumption of the estate, explore possibilities to generate renewable energy onsite, and raise the environmental standards of the homes, buildings and houseboats on site. Options for locally generated renewable energy are being considered, including installing rooftop solar PV on the main house and 27 smaller homes, and the possibility of groundmount solar on 400 acres of the site. 

There are several small craft businesses on site and a large livery yard building with plans to convert to a community space and craft workshop. One tenant runs a successful organic vegetable farm, Tolhurst Organics CIC, which has been running for 40 years.