Natural heat from the earth’s surface could be used to supply historic buildings in Oaksey, thanks to a project led by the local community.
The South West Energy Hub has awarded Oaksey Parish Council a £14,000 Rural Community Energy Fund grant to assess the feasibility of the scheme. If proved viable, a ground source heat pump could be installed to supply low cost, renewable energy to the village hall, church and school.
The current heating system for the buildings is inefficient, expensive and unsustainable in the long term as the community seeks to increase use of the buildings. In particular, the 800-year old Grade 1 listed church requires more consistent heating to maintain its nationally famous wall paintings.
A ground source heat pump could provide continuous background space heating which could be increased when the buildings were occupied. A key advantage of this technology is that the infrastructure would be relatively invisible – making it ideal for use in a conservation area.
Richard Moody, spokesperson for Oaksey Parish Council said:
“The Oaksey community have significant interest in this project both for the benefits that will accrue to the core facilities of the village but also for the potential it might highlight for further alternative schemes here. With over 200 homes and no gas to the village this rural community wants to look forward to alternatives to fossil fuels for a sustainable future in a carefully protected and beautiful built environment. We’re really pleased to receive this funding which is an important step forward for the project.”
Paddy Bradley, CEO at the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) said:
“The Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership is all about supporting the local economy, improving infrastructure and fostering innovation. It’s fantastic to see how a creative approach to energy can be applied in the context of an ancient village and we are excited to see the results of the feasibility study.”
Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub said:
“This project has the potential to bring real benefits to the community, enabling increased use of these key local buildings, while also reducing carbon emissions. We were delighted to award this grant to the parish council and hope other local communities will be inspired to follow its lead.” The parish council is working in collaboration with the Oaksey Village Hall Trust, the Oaksey School Board of Governors, the All Saints Church Warden and the Oaksey Playing Field Trust. The five partners plan to set up a Community Energy Society to manage the capital project and future funding arrangements.