A scheme to stimulate demand for energy efficiency measures in homes across North Yorkshire has been awarded £1.2 million.
The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has given £900,000 and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund £300,000.
The Local Energy Advice Demonstrators (LEAD) project will be piloted in seven neighbourhoods around the towns of Stokesley, Harrogate, Pickering, Skipton and Selby.
Led by North Yorkshire Council, the scheme will focus on specific streets, villages and neighbourhoods where studies have highlighted priority areas and where interest in tackling climate change through retrofitted schemes has been shown.
Households in these pilot areas will be offered a free ‘whole house plan’ – a survey of their homes with advice on what would be needed to make them more energy efficient, such as new windows and doors, or cavity wall and loft insulation.
About 325 plans will be facilitated through the project, comprising in-house assessments, whole house plan development in collaboration with the householder, and elements of design work, leaving the resident with a clear plan of action and next steps to implement their retrofit project.
North Yorkshire Council has led on retrofit programmes across the region for some time, co-ordinating activity in historic county, borough and district councils to deliver funded programmes, Warm and Well projects and advice, alongside capital measures for homes in fuel poverty across the whole of North Yorkshire.
Rurality is a key factor in most of the pilot neighbourhoods – especially around Stokesley, Great Ayton, Potto and Pickering, with the population of these areas also overwhelmingly elderly and often with poor internet literacy. Many of the neighbourhoods also have high levels of fuel poverty, whether rural or in the more built-up areas of north-west Selby and Greatwood in Skipton.
The neighbourhood approach will involve active promotion at local events, such as ‘retrofit in a pub’ evenings and stalls at local fairs with examples of the insulation and heat technologies for residents to investigate and discuss with trained professionals.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for housing, Cllr Simon Myers, said: “Rurality often defines access to contractors, as few are willing to travel into rural areas for a single job, and lack of connectivity also can affect residents’ ability to see the art of the possible with retrofitting – we hope our neighbourhood approach will overcome both issues.
“Fuel poor households also struggle to realise opportunities with retrofit but we hope our customer-centred one-stop-shop approach will help to overcome these issues. We have also taken on board hard to treat homes – terraced homes, solid-walled homes fronting on to footpaths and roads, listed and stone wall buildings, homes in conservation areas, off gas grid properties, and those in generally poor condition.
“Without first fixing the basic issues the retrofit energy efficiency measures such as insulation, draught proofing and ventilation, will not make any difference, especially in poor fuel areas.”
This scheme, which will be delivered in partnership with Align Property Partners, climate action groups across the county and the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, is benefitting from cash from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero’s North-East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for North Yorkshire. Community groups are seen as the most vital partners, particularly those that have good awareness of the benefits of retrofitting, either for cost reduction or climate impact.
Further information on how to access the scheme will be shared once the programme is up and running later in 2023.