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Fresh ideas about renewables from a pioneering village

A leading grass-roots festival for sustainable communities will get under way tomorrow, with a food fayre, international speakers and a brand new awards event to celebrate inspiring community-run projects.

GREEN TEAM: From left, Chrissy Pollok, Kayt Howell and Matthew Black of Fintry Community Development Trust gear up for the weekend. Picture: Martin Shields
GREEN TEAM: From left, Chrissy Pollok, Kayt Howell and Matthew Black of Fintry Community Development Trust gear up for the weekend. Picture: Martin Shields

Fintry Renewable Energy Show (FRESh) is the largest "by communities, for communities" event in Scotland bringing together those working in isolation on sustainability projects in different towns and villages, whether it be putting up a wind turbine or saving a village hall.

Organisers hope those attending will share their knowledge and inspire one another. The two-day event takes place in the Stirlingshire village that has become famous as one of the most low-carbon settlements in Scotland.

The new awards ceremony tomorrow night, themed Half A Dozen FRESh Eggs, will see awards handed out in six categories - land, food, transport, energy, newcomer and all-rounder.

Some 101 nominations have been made for 75 separate projects. Winners will receive hand made 10in-high wooden eggs made by a local artisan from locally sourced wood.

Another big draw this year will be the FRESh Food Festival on Saturday, at Fintry Inn, featuring a local food market, tastings, lunch, barbecue and cooking demonstrations with award-winning chef Neil Forbes of Cafe St Honore in Edinburgh.

Among the speakers will be Werner Frohwitter of the Feldheim community, an entirely energy self-sufficient town in Germany.

Fintry became famous for commissioning its own wind turbine in 2007. Fintry Development Trust (FDT) currently makes a profit averaging £50,000 a year from selling electricity, which it ploughs into efforts to make Fintry a zero-carbon, zero-waste community.

"We are as bog standard a central belt Scotland rural community as it gets," says FDT project manager Kelly McIntyre. The village's 330 households have typically relied on tanked-in fuel, most residents commute to work in Glasgow or Stirling, there is no public transport and the nearest shop is seven miles away.

Thanks to the efforts of the FDT, the sports centre in the village is now heated by a biomass boiler instead of oil, one-third of domestic properties have microrenewables installed, there are photovoltaic panels on the nursery roof and a community garden has been established where vegetables are grown.

People are also using their cars less, thanks to Fintry Energy Efficient Transport, which encompasses a car and bike hire club.

The club has two diesel cars and one electric car plus electric bikes, and has prompted five households to give up their primary vehicle and two others their second car.

Kayt Howell, FDT coordinator, is among them. She said the scheme had saved her money: "My old car was really in need of regular maintenance, so it's terrific."

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