Future of Rural Energy in England (FREE)

FREE was a 3 year rural energy advice programme, between 2010 and 2013, aimed at communities off mains gas, across England. The programme aimed to bring practical independent advice and information regarding fuel choices, energy efficient technologies, and carbon reduction measures, helping to reduce households’ energy consumption and fuel costs. In Cumbria, FREE was delivered by ACT in partnership with NEA (National Energy Action).

The programme was aimed at areas 100% off mains gas areas where Affordable Warmth / Fuel Poverty had been identified as an issue. In Cumbria this included the following Parishes:

  • Eden: Ainstable, Askham, Bampton, Barton, Castle Sowerby, Catterlen, Culgaith, Glassonby, Hesket, Hunsonby, Kirkoswald, Langwathby, Lowther, Martindale, Orton, Ousby, Skelton, and Tebay
  • Carlisle: Arthuret, Bewcastle, Hethersgill, Kirkandrews, Kirklinton Middle, Nicholforest, and Solport & Stapleton
  • Allerdale: Blindcrake, Blindbothel, Buttermere, Embleton & District, Lorton, and Loweswater
  • Copeland: Millom

Work in Communities

ACT went out into communities to existing events such as Farmers Markets, Summer Shows and Community Coffee Mornings, to talk with residents and provide information and advice about making homes more energy efficient, saving money, understanding fuel bills, and renewable energy, as well as signposting to specialist support. The programme was also delivered in conjunction with Energy Best Deal workshops, looking at how to save money on fuel by comparing different fuel suppliers and tariffs, and making the switch.

North West Village Energy Audit

In October 2011 residents in Skirwith village and nearby Kirkland (in Eden) took part in a village energy audit. The information gathered has been collated by National Energy Action (NEA) to produce an energy audit report for the area: Skirwith and Kirkland Village Energy Audit NW community version 16 04 2012.

The report has been made available to the local community to help them plan for their future and, together with audits completed in other regions, will be used to put the case to Government for a more tailored service provision for rural areas. The Village Energy Audit Reports provide real data on what a typical off-mains gas village looks like, giving an overview of energy needs and aspirations for the future, and recommendations for improving housing. Many thanks to Kathryn Thompson, local resident, for her support throughout the project in Skirwith and Kirkland.

Raising Awareness

We've also developed guidance aimed at front line staff and volunteers working with residents, particularly those supporting people in their homes. ‘Fuel Poverty in the Community’ is a short audio power point resource raising awareness of Fuel Poverty in Cumbria, the causes, how to recognise the signs, the solutions, and links to support and advice available for residents in need. Please note, this is a large file to download, free copies of the presentation are available to request on disc.

Logo: Future of Rural Energy in England Logos: Calor, NEA and ACRE