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Sleepy village takes lead in energy

Published: 7:35PM Wednesday March 21, 2007 Source: One News

A sleepy English village wants to become the first place in Britain to be carbon neutral. It already has a solar panel, a wind turbine, and residents say, a better lifestyle.

Habits in the Cheshire village of Ashton Hayes are changing as they race to save the environment.

"It's made it more acceptable to be doing what I am doing but also it does make me think twice. When we wanted to do bedding for the horse's stable we deliberately bought recycled rubber tyre...mats instead of going out buying new rubber ones," says resident Tracey Todhunter.

Ashton Hayes has been on the road to a carbon neutral future for a year - planting trees, changing light bulbs, recycling and turning appliances off when they are not in use.

"The beauty about that is that we've saved 20%, so the actual electric bill in here [at the pub] is about 1,000 pounds a month, we've got it down to 800," says publican Barry Cooney.

It all started as a long-term way of helping the environment, but the village has noticed immediate benefits too. Not only are they saving money on electricity, they are cycling and walking instead of taking the car which means they are getting fitter.

The initiative is also instilling a sense of togetherness in the community.

"It gave everyone that kind of permission to join in, and we're having fun," says resident Richard May.

The local school has its own wind turbine, and a solar panel which provides cleaners with enough hot water to clean all the classrooms.

And every week someone is coming up with a new idea, even the local soccer team.

"If you stand outside this pub on a Saturday afternoon when they're going to the match, these 15 cars pull up and they're all going the same we are talking about that," says Cooney.

While Ashton Hayes is aiming to be Britain's first carbon neutral village, May says it won't worry locals if someone else beats them to it.

"It's not one of those races where you have to come first".