Stunning success of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

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The event “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” has been a success. Yesterday, almost 100 people gathered in Manorhamilton to take their energy future into their own hands. The main outcome of this pioneering event was the decision to develop a plan for community-owned renewable energy projects in North Leitrim. The event, organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland and Love Leitrim was also intensively followed on social media and it was livestreamed globally.

Pauline Gallacher, Neilston Trust (Scotland), Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, and Cormac Walsh, Energy Co-operatives Ireland, were the main speakers. Gallacher’s presentation was one of the most inspiring ones. “Use community-owned energy to stimulate ownership of the carbon emission reduction agenda and harness your own resources to build your own sustainable future”, she told to the Irish audience.

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“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” was aimed at raising awareness of the opportunities open to local communities to benefit from renewable energies, look at the potential to generate income and jobs for the community and identify local champions of renewable energy. During the day all the people attending had the chance to learn about successful community-owned experiences from Ireland and Scotland and also to raise every question, doubt and misunderstanding they might have had.

“We are delighted with the success of the event” GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin said at the end of this day of workshops and discussions. “It was great to see so many people , but this is only the first step of a bigger project. Renewables can be the source to re-energise rural communities, bringing jobs and income, and we want to replicate this event in many towns and villages across Ireland, providing sustainable alternatives for fossil fuels”, McLoughlin stated.

More pictures on Flickr!

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Only one week to start changing Ireland’s energy landscape!

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Only 7 days left to Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities! A full day of workshops and discussion taking place in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim. This full day of workshops and discussions will look at the ways that renewable energies can generate income for communities and create local jobs, as well as reducing energy bills! We need to create an alternative vision for Northwest communities threatened by fracking and this is exactly the aim of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

People attending will have the opportunity to listen about successful experiences from Ireland and Scotland. Pauline Gallacher, from the Neilston Trust (Scotland), will tell how this town in the outskirts of Glasgow transformed the community from a dormitory town to a prosperous community thank to a community-owned small wind farm. Many rural communities can learn a lot from this experience and replicate it. Cormac Walsh, from Energy Co-Operatives Ireland, will talk about the potential of community energy cooperatives. Another key speaker is Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, who will talk about the challenges of global warming.

During the day, GEAI will present the results of an Energy Audit carried out in Manorhamilton that shows that households spend more than €2 million every year on energy. Over three quarters of this is spent on imported fossil fuels and this shows the importance of replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” is the first event of its kind organised in Ireland, but it is not going to be the last. We could be witnessing the beginning of reshaping Ireland’s energy landscape and it is happening in the Northwest!

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Millions of euro spent on imported energy in Manorhamilton

Manorhamilton households spend more than €2 million every year on transport and other energy uses. This is the startling total determined through an Energy Audit carried out by GEAI and Love Leitrim volunteers. The study calculates that the 563 households in the town spend over €500,000 on electricity and over €600,000 on other fuels (oil, gas and solid fuels), an average of €2,200 per household. A total of €1 million is also spent on petrol and diesel, an average of €1,600 per car owner. “What this means is that over €1.5 million of Manorhamilton’s disposable income is spent on imported fossil fuels every year and therefore lost to the economy!” said GEAI Director, Aedín McLoughlin. “People don’t realise the very real potential of renewable energies to reduce imports, generate income and jobs for local communities and provide energy security for the future. The Manorhamilton community, having turned its back on fracking, is now looking at alternatives and is finding out that renewable energies, as well as lowering carbon emissions, can also benefit the health and economic growth of its town.” The survey is part of the “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” event taking place on 24th June in the Bee Park Centre, Manorhamilton. It will be a day of presentations, workshops and discussions with many interesting speakers and topics of discussion. Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Trust (Scotland) and Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader will be the main speakers, but this is not going to be the usual conference where local people simply listen to experts. The aim is that everyone attending will get a chance to speak and be heard.

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Unique approach to community ownership of renewable energy

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Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities is a unique event, combining presentations, workshops and discussions, taking place in Manorhamilton on June 24th. The day-long gathering will raise awareness of the opportunities open to local communities to benefit from renewable energies, look at the potential of wind energy and biomass to generate income and jobs for the community and identify local champions of renewable energy sources and uses.

The event is organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) and Love Leitrim, both environmental NGOs. Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, and Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Trust (Scotland), will be the main speakers, but this is not going to be the usual conference where local people simply listen to experts. The aim is that everyone attending will get a chance to speak and be heard.

“We hear a lot about climate change and how renewable energies coRuld lower our carbon emissions”, said Dr Aedín McLoughlin, Director, GEAI. “What we don’t hear enough of is the potential of renewable energies to generate income and jobs for local communities if they are in community ownership. Scotland has 72 times more community-owned energy than Ireland, with roughly the same population!

“How is it that developers are allowed to build massive wind farms in rural areas, make fortunes from them and only give token “benefits” to local communities?” she asked. “Currently, rural communities are in decline and lack sustainable employment. Rural communities have no idea of the potential of renewable energies to generate local income and jobs and it is time that this situation changed.”

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An inspiring meeting in Glenfarne

Janice Raine-Conick, Julia Walsh, John Armstrong, Renee Vogelsang, Aedín McLoughlin and Irina Tiugan.

Janice Raine-Conick, Julia Walsh, John Armstrong, Renee Vogelsang, Aedín McLoughlin and Irina Tiugan.

Three leaders of the New York Campaign against Fracking – Julia Walsh, Renee Vogelsang and John Armstrong – told the story of their success in getting a review of the Public Health impacts of Fracking by the New York State Department of Health, followed by consideration of the review and a full ban on fracking by Governor Cuomo.

Julia, spokesperson of New York Frack Action said that from the beginning the aim of the campaign was a full Ban on Fracking and for seven years, the campaign repeated this demand. A key component of the campaign was their “Dear Governor Cuomo” strategy, where campaigners followed the Governor and protested at every event he attended. “In the end, if we were not there protesting, he assumed he had arrived at the wrong venue!” Julia joked. On a more serious note, she reiterated the importance of being visible to the person making the decision; “If that is your Minister for Energy, shadow him, be visible, don’t let him think you are gone away.”

John Armstrong warned against the common refrain of the oil and gas industry where they propose to frack, “We’re going to get it right!”. “They will promise you gold standard regulations, consultation, money, anything to convince you that this time all will be well,” said John. “But everywhere they go, they are followed by well failures, air pollution, water contamination and sicknesses in communities. Like cigarettes, regulations don’t make fracking safe!”

Renee warned that the campaign against fracking is not just about science – organisation is essential. Writing, demonstrating, getting a political mandate. We have to create a megaphone of our voices so that we reach every member of the public. The most important aim of the campaign – DO NOT LET FRACKING INTO IRELAND!

The three campaigners were hosted by Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Love Leitrim and Northwest Network Against Fracking during their visit to Ireland.

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