We’re all for the Green Deal and domestic renewables – but we’re also all for it opening its doors to as many people as possible: small businesses as well as bigger ones, communities as well as individual households. But of course, smaller, more localised concerns often are more in need of support and collateral to have half a chance of seeing the full benefit if ambitious national programmes.

There was a significant amount of funding announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change yesterday for a scheme called Leaf, which we’re administering hand-in-hand with community organisations on behalf of the government.

But for many, judging by some of the calls we’ve been getting from community-based businesses and organisations, it’s come a bit out of the blue. So what’s it all about?

The new £10 million fund offers the chance for around 200 community organisations – that can be anything from parish councils, voluntary associations, development trusts and faith groups (it almost feels like we’ve been seeding the idea for the latter on this blog, with quite a few pieces on religion’s increasing interest in renewables…) to get to grips with energy efficiency and renewable energy generation.

So what’s the cold, hard funding involved? We want to see numbers, darn it!

Well, there is around £50,000 available for each successful community to be used to help assess the potential for energy efficiency and local renewable energy generation and get things started in local communities. It’s all about getting the financial models right, setting up the working examples of technologies, and generally building up something of a community clamour – humans being the most important driver on the road to sustainability. 

This is not a slow-burning thing, though – communities really have to step up to the plate and beat the pre- and post-Christmas malaise, as work will need to be completed by end of March 2012.

Interested communities can apply via the website – www.greencommunitiescc.org.uk  – and money will be allocated in two rounds. The first round closes at noon on 22 December 2011 with successful applicants notified in the week beginning 9 January 2012.   The second round will close to applications at noon on 20 January 2012 with successful communities notified at the end January. 

An (almost) final word to our Chief Executive Philip:

“This is an excellent opportunity for community organisations in England and Wales. One of our main goals is to ensure that communities across the country are empowered with the right tools to help them become greener and reduce their energy bills. The Energy Saving Trust has worked closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop the Local Energy Assessment Fund and looks forward to administering the programme.”

We’re very much hoping that this short blast of local activity can lay the foundations for something truly great. The hard work starts…now!