Environmental schemes helping businesses tackle rising fuel costs were on show during a visit of Shropshire projects by the Board of Advantage West Midlands’ Rural Regeneration Zone.
Zone Board members visited the Environmental Technologies Centre in Shrewsbury, home to 17 companies and organisations with up to 100 staff all involved in environmental technologies.
It was created by transforming a former Victorian waterworks and pumping station on the banks of the River Severn into a base for the businesses, showcasing the latest eco-friendly features.
Using around 70 per cent less CO2 than a standard office building, these features include exceptionally high levels of insulation, a wood pellet biomass boiler heating system, a full mechanical ventilation and heat recovery mechanism and a rainwater recovery system.
It was officially opened earlier this year by Liam Byrne MP, former Minister for the West Midlands, and the project received £500,000 from the Rural Regeneration Zone.
The Zone also supports a suite of environmental funds that are working to help businesses and communities reduce the impact of the rising fuel costs.
Rural Regeneration Zone chairman Peter Pawsey said: “With fuel costs at an all-time high and looking set to continue to increase for the foreseeable future, energy is set to rise even further up everybody’s agenda.
“The rural west of our region has a key role to play, and is already leading the way, in developing renewable and sustainable solutions to the energy challenges we all face.
“Effectively, the work of partners within the Rural Regeneration Zone is three-pronged – they are aiming to reduce the demand for energy, to encourage low carbon sources of energy and to develop more local energy production and supply.”
Three main funds are available across the Zone, which covers most of Shropshire, all of Herefordshire, and western parts of Worcestershire.
One is the Low Carbon Communities project, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in three communities in Shropshire – Ellesmere, Cleobury Mortimer and the ‘floodplain community’, a collection of small villages and farms near Oswestry.
Another scheme involving the Marches Energy Agency is the RE:think Energy Initiative which covers the entire Zone.
This project, launched earlier this year, provides capital grants for businesses that want to install renewable energy technologies such as ground source heat pumps, photovoltaic cells and biomass boilers.
The Co-Operative FiRE (Financing Renewable Energy) aims to create social enterprises which can provide renewable energy solutions for rural communities.