Carbon cutting targets set a mighty challenge to whole community

Project FALCON is supporting renewable energy solutions, such as wind farms and solar panels
Project FALCON is supporting renewable energy solutions, such as wind farms and solar panels

BUSINESSES and residents in Milton Keynes have been set a challenging target to cut carbon emissions by a massive 80 per cent by 2050.

Milton Keynes Council has taken what it calls a “community leadership” position on environmental issues and wants to work with the business to help bring this about.

At a recent one-day Low Carbon Living Seminar held at stadium:mk the new city’s business community was invited to get involved in greening MK.

Geoff Snelson, director of strategy at Milton Keynes Council told the conference, involving speakers from around the country that there would be “opportunities to experiment” with different carbon saving technologies because “it’s a growing city.”

The council will have money to spend on green infrastructure projects because it takes what is called a ‘roof tax’ from developers building homes as the city expands to a population of 300,000 by 2026.

The council has decided to spend cash on projects such as the retro-fitting of homes in deprived areas. This might include new energy efficient boilers, home insulation and other help for people in what is called fuel poverty.

Mr Snelson said: “Milton Keynes does have its share of deprivation and we are able to do something about that.”

There are also plans to put solar electric power cells on the old Milton Keynes bus station by the end of March. There could be a city centre combined heat and power plant and an energy-from-waste plant in 2016 if plans are approved.

The council has also won £12.4million towards a £16million four-year project called Flexible Approaches for Low Carbon Optimised Networks (FALCON).

Lead by electricity distributor Western Power Distribution in partnership with the council and Cranfield University, it will study the impact of increasing electricity use and the use of renewable energy solutions like solar power and how it can be best managed in the future.

The project has already gained interest from a number of MK’s businesses with large electricity demands or on-site generation.

Mr Snelson said he believed the work could be ‘nationally pioneering’.

Councillor David Hopkins, deputy leader of Milton Keynes Council outlined the smart city vision for Milton Keynes at a meeting of the Biztech technology forum.

Mr Hopkins, who takes the lead on economic development and enterprise, told the Biztech event at Woburn Golf Club that the smart city would be “the dawning of a new era.” By using technology, the city would find new ways of working.

He said it could be the dawning of an “internet of things”, where users could use their phones to do things like switch on heaters, fridges and cookers remotely.

Answering questions, Councillor Brian White said it could involve technology to, for example, switch on washing machines when the sun shines on solar panels.

But it would also offer companies the chance to work on projects with the council.

There are other projects bubbling under, too. The government’s Green Deal will offer struggling households the chance to pay for equipment like solar panels through partly using the savings made on their energy bills.

Liz Keenaghan-Clark, of the Green Deal project, told the Low Carbon seminar that the government was looking at ideas to spend £205million, maybe on projects involving whole streets.

The energy company, E.on is already working on a smart homes energy management project in the new city. The company’s Christopher Rimmer told the seminar that the firm was planning for 75 homes to join the trial being run in selected homes in Two Mile Ash and Emerson Valley.