Green Villages – May 2006

Browsing through the Independent newspaper during my lunch break I came across the headline, ‘Is this the greenest village in Britain?’. Reading further I discovered to my surprise they were talking about Chew Magna, some 15 miles north-east of Wedmore!

By all accounts there is something of a green revolution happening in this village of 1,100 residents. A smaller village than Wedmore but in other ways very similar, both occupying a picturesque location, both boasting many fine houses and good local shops.

‘GoZero’ is the name of the project which is an umbrella group for a large number of discussions, proposals and projects. Their aim is to reduce the villages impact on the environment by reducing waste and energy usage as well as tackling traffic problems and congestion in the parish.

They started by encouraging more people to buy locally with the GoZero team producing a 16 page local food guide. Local producers have now clubbed together to set up a veggie box scheme. Different sub groups are looking at different areas, for instance one has been looking at ways to encourage more recycling, with the result that now 80% of the residents recycle, four times the national average.

One of the most innovative ideas I read about is a local carbon-offset fund run by the local travel agents. They calculate the CO2 emmisions of the trip you are booking and work out how much you need to pay into the fund to offset the environmental cost (all voluntary of course). This fund is then going towards tree planting schemes in the village and abroad in deforested parts of India.

Local energy companies have got in on the act, donating 500 low energy lightbulbs that villagers can pick up for free. The group is now looking closely at the renewable energy issue, not expecting people to rush out and cover their roofs with solar panels just encouraging people to think about energy saving and renewable energy when their current boiler reaches the end of the road.

I imagine they have made such good progress by a combination of enthusiasm, discussion and steering clear of any ‘eco-preaching’. For all the information have a look at their website, http://www.gozero.org.uk/ . A model for other villages?