The Green Valleys was created in 2009 by community members in and around the Brecon Beacons who were concerned about climate change and wanted to act, but did not have a platform or expertise to do so. The Green Valleys was created to fit that need, prompted by the Big Green Challenge prize fund offered by NESTA.
We were one of the joint winners for our community-led carbon reduction reduction plan for small, high-head community-owned hydro schemes and wood fuel production from community management of neglected woodlands - both ideally suited to the local landscape of the National Park.
Since 2010 we set up a hydro design and installation company that installed more than 70 small scale hydros for private, community and charity customers, undertook energy efficiency assessments and advice for close to 100 community-owned buildings in south Wales, set up 8 community woodland groups, planted and restored 8 small community orchards and helped over 20 community groups with general advice and assistance on projects to make their communities more sustainable.
We have recently completed work as a partner on an EU Interreg funded project to create new energy cooperatives and create new tools and structures to enable more rapid development of more community energy projects.
Tackling climate change is often framed as needing to give things up - give up flying or give up that car you love. It's also framed as "costly" - either in time or money. While elements of this are true, it is difficult to inspire action. From the beginning, we focused on pitching climate action as a chance to make things better for yourself, your family, your street and your community. Climate action at a community level can be more effective, more impactful and can make larger projects achievable. The need to change the way we live, work, travel and power our homes is an opportunity to make the essential better, more suitable and to capture and gain the benefits, including cost. We placed the community at the centre of project discussions and focused on assets and solutions that would deal with real problems or concerns in each community.
New tools and structures created to enable more rapid development of more community energy projects.