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New project to fit solar energy to healthcare buildings

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Plans to expand sustainable energy production in Stroud have been boosted by a new project to fit solar energy to healthcare buildings in the district.

Dr Simon Opher, Dursley GP and Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Stroud, is leading a cross party community energy network to promote and enable community energy schemes in the constituency, A group of experts covering all aspects of the subject was brought together following a public launch in September last year. The group now sits under Transition Stroud. 

Dr Opher said: “Sustainable community energy schemes give local people a say in choosing and siting these new technologies, and potentially lowering energy bills. What I love about community energy is that local people have control. If people are concerned about tackling climate change, bringing down energy bills and improving energy security, local energy schemes can really help.

“A Labour Government would invest over £3billion in local communities to produce their own energy. Half would go to councils and the other half would be low cost loans so that communities can go it alone if they choose. That’s why it’s so important that we vote on May 2nd to get a District Council that supports locally produced, sustainable energy. The combination of a Labour-run Council, and in time, a Labour Government and local MP could be really transform things for local people.”

A major new project is now underway to fit solar panels on healthcare buildings in Stroud. It plans to use the roofs of Weavers Croft, Stroud Maternity Unit, Stroud General Hospital and also The Vale hospital in Stroud, with options also being considered for Park House. The project expects to produce large amounts of clean energy and lower costs for the NHS locally.

The Stroud network is also looking at school buildings. Peter Boait ofGloucstershire Community Energy Co-op, who has already installed solar PV on Minchinhampton School said, “There are a few barriers but I think we should be able to offer many schools in the Stroud area the option of solar panels in the near future.”

A major academic study of rooftop solar commissioned by the countryside charity, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), claimed that 117 gigawatts of power could be generated from solar panels on rooftops and other developed land such as car parks in England. Enough to power well over 40,000 homes.  The report goes on to suggest that public opinion would be likely to prefer largely hidden rooftop PV instead of using green fields for solar farms. 

The community energy network is also looking at possible expansion of sensitively placed wind turbines in the area, partly funded by and benefitting local people. The planning policy around wind energy is incredibly restrictive at the moment, but is expected to change in the future.

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