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Avoiding the energy tariff rise

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 19.04.2017

Time: 14:57

Household energy bills are on the rise again, after five of the big six companies have raised their standard variable tariffs. As the big six occupy 84% of the market, and approximately 70% of their customers are still on the expensive standard tariffs, this will almost certainly affect someone you know.

There are better alternatives, for example, our Warm Homes South Holland project helped Mrs Maxwell from Spalding save £199 simply by upgrading to a one-year fixed tariff with her current supplier.

All the information you need to do a tariff comparison is in the “About your tariff” section of an energy bill. If you’re a prepayment customer and haven’t got an annual summary, there’s a good chance your on the standard tariff and can estimate by your weekly payments.

Try our impartial switching service and sister company Green Energy Switch to compare the energy market: https://save.greenenergyswitch.co.uk/?db=dual

In more positive news Ofgem, the gas and electric industry regulator has introduced a prepayment meter price cap. As of April 1st 2017 energy companies will only be able to charge domestic prepayment customers a maximum price set by Ofgem, in line with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recommendations set in their two-year review of the market.

These rates vary by region and will be updated every 6 months on April 1st and October 1st, with the temporary cap expected to expire at the end of 2020, which can be viewed here:

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/system/files/docs/2017/02/prepayment_price_cap_-_1_april_2017.pdf

This temporary cap is in line with the Smart Meter rollout completion, with the assumption being that increased competition from easier switching will lower the market price.

Overall, this is a step in the right direction. It is a disappointment that prepayment customers pay an average of £220 more than those on the cheapest deals by direct debit, and yet are very often those least able to afford it.

Sam Bosson is Environmental Consultant at PECT

Tags:

#Energytariffs
#Energysupplier
#energybills
#ofgem
#Smartmeter

Take a vote of change

Category: General

Date: 12.04.2017

Time: 10:08

Do you feel there’s too much traffic on the roads? Poor provision of public transport? Not enough sustainable solutions across the city?

Some of these issues are likely to have crossed our minds at some point in time and it can be frustrating for people who are affected, especially if we feel nothing is being done about it. 

Peterborough is the number one fastest-growing city by population, according to the Peterborough Investment Partnership, so it’s no surprise that the numbers of cars on the roads create a cause for concern within the city centre. In fact, the annual growth rate of our city is currently at 1.6%, meaning that the demand for road space will only be rising.

This is the reality and this is why we need to choose a suitable figurehead to lead the way for change in sustainability issues within our city.
The new Mayor for the combined Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Authority, which will be set up as a result of a devolution deal, will have the influence to help solve these issues.  The deal has been agreed in order to inject more money into both the Peterborough and Cambridge economy.
A significant benefit of the devolution deal, negotiated with the government, is a new £600 million fund to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and provide jobs, which will also include major investment in transport schemes.

Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Steve Count, who is also Chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership, has said: “It will mean we can invest in new homes, better transport and boost the local economy. We have a chance locally to increase skills, jobs and tackle deprivation.”

To account for the growing transport demands of our city, a strategy needs to be put forward which looks to tackle the issues of traffic congestion, transport infrastructure and accessibility, in addition to the provision of sustainable transport substitutes to encourage greater modal shifts.

As a city, we need to take responsibility for ensuring that we vote in the upcoming Mayoral Elections if we want to have a say in these issues.  We must not ignore the important role the Mayor has in chairing the Combined Authority and the power that they will possess in influencing investment decisions across the two cities. 
To register to vote please visit: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

To find out more information about the combined authority, please visit:
https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/devolution

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at PECT.

Tags:

#Cambridge
#Peterborough
#Jointauthority
#Devolutiondeal
#cpmayor17

Verbatim GREEN-SPACE Play Project

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 11.04.2017

Time: 16:04

Working in the community has a variety of connotations and benefits for artists. As a writer and theatre director, I know that at the heart of each performance is a circular conversation between maker, interpreters (actors/designer etc) and the audience. I am also aware that the quality of synergy in this conversation determines the smoothness of the planning, making/writing and production process.

There are things about working on a community-based commission that particularly throw light on this conversation. Giving birth is a complicated thing (I imagine), but when all the internal and external mechanics are working together, it happens with natural force and impact - boom!

Thanks to funding from Peterborough Presents, a member of the Creative People and Places project, and Peterborough City Council, I have been working on the ‘Verbatim GREEN-SPACE Play Project’ since November 2016.

A verbatim show in an outdoor setting is a delicious prospect for someone developing scripts in textural and structurally playful ways. Partnering with WestRaven Big Local, The Olive Branch Garden and The Green Backyard, with support from PECT, I have just completed stage one of an interview gathering, scripting and production journey for scratch/work-in-progress performances in June 2017.

In this context, unlike collaborating with a theatre or arts centre, your partners and part-interpreters (interviewees) are your audience. The through-line of developing that base of ticket-buying and marketing support begins on day one, with the first interaction.

To date, I have collected over 12 audio-recordings of interviews with GREEN-SPACE users with the aim of using interviewee’s words to make a 45 minute docu-drama or ‘verbatim’ show. But there’s an aim in itself with these recordings. Our chats have formed an online archive on the StreamLyric.co.uk ‘NewsFlow’, which I hope might be used in 22nd Century Peterborough by students clad in, as yet, uninvented fibres, to track a pivotal era in the city’s development.

An ‘Environment City’ could easily be considered a contradiction in terms. So it feels worthwhile to explore what this means. From the human perspective, there are definite recurring themes across these interviews, not least desire for extended family/surrogate community and random ‘play.’

As we know, casual conversation, albeit recorded, is a good vehicle for striking truths. Time and time again, interviewees have spoken of their motivation to connect with others in activities where performance is not measured and acceptance is a core value of the environment.

Volunteers have typically encountered these spaces during periods of transition when identity is being reaffirmed or redefined. It is no surprise that the bubbles of calmness which facilitate this are dense with organic matter and low with technological communications. If churches were once the go-to safe-haven for the mind, perhaps urban green space is a substitute in a secular and multi-faith UK.

Performances of ‘The Verbatim GREEN_SPACE Play’ in association with Stream-Lyric will take place on June 3rd and 4th at WestRaven Big Local and The Green Backyard respectively. Keep up-to-date on www.streamlyric.co.uk / @stream_lyric / @StreamLyric

Written by Tamsin Flower, writer and theatre director. 

Tags:

#Peterborough
#GreenSpace

Homes are much healthier through Healthy Homes!

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 21.03.2017

Time: 15:20

After 362 home visits, more than £125,000 of home improvements and 719 free energy saving packs, PECT’s Healthy Homes project has come to an end.
During 2016, the Healthy Homes project worked with households in Peterborough and Fenland which were suffering- or at risk of suffering- from fuel poverty. The project aimed to reduce the number of households in, or at risk of, fuel poverty; increase the available income of fuel poor households; create carbon savings through improving the energy efficiency of homes; and improve health and wellbeing, especially problems exacerbated by living in a cold home (for example, respiratory or cardiovascular conditions).

In order to do this, the project set up links to receive referrals from partner organisations which were likely to be in touch with priority groups. Households then received a home energy advice visit, to look at potential savings from changing tariff, applying for the Warm Home Discount or implementing behaviour change tips. Households in need of additional support also received fuel debt relief or fully-funded home improvements such as loft or cavity wall insulation and new A-rated boilers.

A couple of months after the end of the project, PECT is now starting to look at the impact this work has had. Pleasingly, 75% of households suffering from fuel poverty at the start of the project are no longer in fuel poverty. Risk factors for households vulnerable to fuel poverty have also been reduced, by improving the energy efficiency of homes and reducing fuel bills. On average, participants saved £288.06 p.a. It’s hoped that this will also lead to longer term savings, with 62% reporting an improved understanding of their energy bills and 86% saying that they would be likely to change tariff or supplier again. Home improvements such as improved insulation and boiler upgrades will reduce carbon emissions by 17,418 kg during 2017 alone, with estimated lifetime savings of 231,644kg.

It’s too early to properly assess the project’s impact on health and wellbeing, particularly as many participants were suffering from long-term, chronic conditions. However, from the initial evaluation that’s been carried out, there has been an interesting link between support through the project and mental wellbeing.

At the start and end of the project, participants were asked to rate their level of agreement with various statements to assess mental wellbeing. At the beginning, responses from the group identified as in need of fuel debt relief were much more negative than responses from project participants as a whole (24% negative statements from all participants compared to 67% for fuel debt relief recipients). At the end of the project, there was a significant increase in positive statements from this group- up from 2% to 24%, while at the same time their negative statements dropped to 50%. Eliminating fuel debt certainly seemed to contribute to a marked improvement in the group’s mental wellbeing. 

It will be interesting to track the impact of the project over the longer term. In the meantime, PECT is continuing with its work to reduce fuel poverty, with the Warm Homes South Holland project and involvement in the Local Energy Advice Programme.

Tags:

#energysavings
#Healthyhomes
#Warmhomediscount
#coldhome
#installation
#homeimprovements

Greetham Valley Golf Course is above par with its sustainability

Category: Business

Date: 17.03.2017

Time: 15:03

Greetham Valley, in Rutland, has been working hard to achieve various environmental objectives over recent years and has now won the national 2017 Environmental Golf Course of the Year award for all the green improvements that it has made.

The venue was delighted with the success and Robert Hinch, the Managing Director commented: “We attended the awards for the first time and were absolutely astounded when we were announced the winners. Our success is in recognition of a great team effort with everyone in the business working towards the same goals.”

The Environmental Golf Course of the Year award recognises venues that demonstrate environmental best practice, with the aim of rewarding those that are making real improvements to their local environment and to the quality of life for the future. It is a great example to look at for sharing best practice with other organisations.

Recently measures have been taken to improve Greetham Valley’s overall resource efficiency, which have not only resulted in national recognition for the venue’s achievements but also overall long-term financial gains. Last summer two bio mass boilers were installed, which are proving to be very cost effective, and the installation of LED lighting is being rolled out, providing excellent short term payback opportunities.

With sustainability being at the forefront, significant environmental highlights of the Golf Course include the planting of over 26,000 trees across the estate since 1990. In addition, it has seen a reduction of water usage by 75% over the past two years through taking steps such as identifying waste through leakage, recycling rainwater and fitting more sustainable and efficient sanitary equipment in public areas, whilst the machinery wash-down system is an environmentally sealed recycling loop.

Greetham Valley believes that it is not only important to measure and reduce its own impact on the environment but also as having a responsibility towards wildlife. Therefore over the 25 years that the golf course has been established there has been a focus on increasing biodiversity through the provision of suitable habitats for small mammals and insects.

Adi Porter, Course Manager at Greetham Valley said: “We have a passion for producing the finest playing surfaces whilst also encouraging best practice for the environment, demonstrating how golf and ecology can thrive together in harmony.”

Some of the initiatives that have been implemented include: establishing wildflower meadows on the complex, a wildlife-friendly drystone and log wall for hibernating and shelter, a bug hotel, a bird of prey feeding tower, bird feeders outside the newly erected hides and a floating bird island.

The projects are always expanding and evolving, with one project in particular focusing on the 17 ponds and lakes across the estate, using environmentally friendly Bentile clay, to attract a diversity of flora and fauna. These ponds have been populated with fish and are very attractive to the local Rutland Water ospreys in particular.

Greetham Valley also invests in projects of national significance, such as Operation Pollinator, a national scheme to encourage golf courses to provide essential sanctuaries for bumblebees. The Golf Course has now installed a solitary bee tower, alongside wildflower meadows to provide the essential food sources and nesting sites required for pollinating insects.

Overall the management and staff at Greetham Valley are in full support of the programme of ecological works and the benefits provided and have taken steps to ensure that they continue to monitor all resources to maintain its progress.

And it is not just the staff who are embracing the culture, but members of the club are also now getting on board and showing their passion for helping the course to be even more environmentally friendly through suggesting new project ideas.

For more information, visit www.greethamvalley.co.uk.

Tags:

#sustainability

Category: Funders/Partners

Date: 16.03.2017

Time: 13:54

I admit, I have been known to (on occasion) become highly competitive… Everything from office bake-offs, to board games and Christmas desk decorating have all resulted in my extreme competitive streak coming to the forefront!

But now I’ve found a way to harness this sense of competition into something useful – raising funds for Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), by using the website easyfundraising.

It’s really simple to use. Whenever you buy anything online – same as you would do normally – from your weekly food shop, train tickets, stationery, insurance, and even your annual holiday, you could be collecting free donations for PECT.

There are over 3,000 shops on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, thetrainline and Sainsbury's – and it doesn't cost you a penny extra!

Simply head to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/pect/ and join for free. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost!

This is all great, but I have to confess what really appeals to me is the fundraising leader board, which shows how much you’ve raised for the charity so far in comparison to how much others have raised. It’s great for feeding your secret competitive streak! Plus, by donating to charity as you shop, easyfundraising helps ease the guilt when you’ve carried out a shopping splurge!

So get easyfundraising! There’s nothing to stop you.

Laura Fanthorpe is the Marketing and Communications Manager for PECT.

Tags:

#easyfundraising

The reluctant environmentalist

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.03.2017

Time: 11:49

A colleague recently asked me if I thought my attitude to the environment had changed since I started working at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). The question got me thinking… have my views and behaviours changed since I started working for an environmental charity?

Unlike a lot of the people who work at PECT I am not a vegetarian, I have never been on a protest rally and I am not a member of Greenpeace. I have never been overly passionate about the environment or thought much about the city in which I was born and raised. I guess like a lot of people I took these things for granted.

I was of course aware of the main environmental issues affecting the planet – my previous work for an engineering consultancy involved dealing with environmental impact assessments or how climate change impacted a design; however they never really seemed real - it was all facts, figures, research and charts.

It wasn’t until I started to work at PECT that I began to really look around me. Within my first few weeks here I was volunteering to coppice Bretton Woods. I took my father along who has lived in Peterborough all his life, and worked in Bretton for much of it. He had never been into the local woodlands and was not aware of the activities going on or how to get involved. We both had a really great morning and learnt a lot about why the woods need management and how to look after them.

Within my first few months I spent time with a number of business who were being audited as part of our Investors in the Environment green accreditation. It was great to learn what these business were doing and the positive impact they were having on the community in which they are based. I was lucky enough to go to the annual iiE Awards to witness so many of these businesses receiving recognition for their achievements.

In early summer I worked with our Education team to help run the Eco Awards, an awards ceremony to celebrate the eco success of schools all across Peterborough. I spent time with the judging panel and learnt about all the brilliant projects the children had been involved with. They had such passion and enthusiasm for the subject, with each school tacking a different environmental issue in a different way.

At the Green Festival in 2016 I persuaded my wife to volunteer. She is not an ‘eco-warrior’ and it was the first time she had used a litter picker. We both had a fabulous day, working with the PECT team and other volunteers, along with learning about what all the other environmental organisations do in the city to make Peterborough a better place to live and work in.

All of these experiences, the office debates and the involvement in projects at PECT has made me consider the environment more, along with what my family and I can do to help protect it.

I am now an avid recycler, I generally car share or use sustainable transport, I turn off my monitor when I step away from my desk and I like to encourage others to follow my example (much to the annoyance of some of my friends down the pub).

I must admit, I now find it hard to understand why anyone or a business would not at least think about their impact on the environment and what changes they can make.

Sometimes at PECT it can feel like we are working in an eco-bubble, with our composting bin and sharing table; I used to pride myself on being the ordinary man in the street when we discussed how to engage with people, being a naysayer or playing devil’s advocate, but increasingly I find myself agreeing more with the views of my colleagues and actively embracing sustainability. There is always something more we could be doing, but if we can all change a little then it adds up to a lot.

Stuart Dawks is PECT’s General Manager.

Tags:

#GoingGreen