FIVE years ago, a small group of people from the Crediton area decided that it wanted to help combat climate change.

It set out on an ambitious project to install a one Megawatt community-owned wind turbine in the region.

One of those involved, John Chater, said that the first obstacle for the Heart of Devon Community Energy group was being told by National Grid (NG) that its network did not have the capacity to take any more power in our region.

John explained: "They did however tell us of another suitable substation which was not too far away.

"We carried out a preliminary survey of opinion with every household in that area to find that 70 per cent of people responding were either in favour or did not object to the plan.

"We intend to take a second survey when we think this figure will be higher after the full benefits become better known.

"The next stage was to carry out a very detailed feasibility study which was done for us by Locogen, a highly respected green energy consultancy and paid for by grants we applied for, and gained, from the Government (£40k) as well as Devon County Council (£15k).

"The findings were extremely positive particularly if we went for a 2MW turbine.

"The cost of the turbine and installation would be about £3m which would be paid for by a share issue.

"The benefit to the community would be approximately £2m over its 20-year life.

"This benefit would be in terms of a community fund which could be used for a number of projects for residents and businesses; examples being help with energy costs, improvements in insulation, more installed renewable energy, electric transport and so on.

"In addition there would be other benefits such as a decent rate of return on shares, cheaper electricity, security of supply and even more if the Local Energy Bill (currently under debate in Parliament) passes into Law.

"However, the future of the project is in doubt. In 2020, NG informed us that it would be able to take 2MW of our power and we planned accordingly.

"A year later, NG said our output would have to be curtailed to 1MW for the first two years, which we reluctantly accepted.

"This year, it has informed us that it might have to be curtailed until 2036 which would make our scheme uneconomic.

"So all of our hard work and the grant money will be wasted because NG (owned by the American company Western Power) seems unwilling to increase its spending on infrastructure for the future.

"Our experience is common amongst other energy companies (and even amongst motorway service stations wanting to install electric charging points).

"We will now have to wait to see if the Government will put pressure on NG to increase its infrastructure.

"Our view is that the whole community energy sector, such as ours, has clearly demonstrated to Government the many advantages of locally owned and produced clean energy."