Located in rural Cheshire, UK, Ashton Hayes is a well-knit community of about 1000 people that is aiming to become England’s first carbon-neutral community. The village started its journey in January 2006 and since then has already cut its carbon dioxide emissions significantly – by working together, sharing ideas and through behavioural change.
RSK Executive Director and Ashton Hayes project founder Garry Charnock comments, “The project was launched to the public on 26 January 2006 and since then we have met hundreds of communities, formed a village energy company and have enjoyed global media coverage.
“RSK designer Steve Holland, has produced a timeline with some of our key moments. We plan to display this in Ashton Hayes once the COVID-19 crisis ends.”
Highlights span from Garry first pitching the concept in 2005, a 20% drop in C02 emissions by 2007, attending the World Future Council meeting in 2015 and coverage from The Guardian, the BBC, The Financial Times and The New York Times across the years. Most recently, the community celebrated its 15th anniversary over Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Board also discussed a range of matters including new sustainability initiatives for 2021 and reviewed the continuing income from the village’s solar panels on the school and pavilion.
The Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral website explains how the village has got to where it is today: “The success of our project is mainly down to the hard-working band of 30-50 volunteers who regularly offer their skills to benefit the project. We encourage everyone to participate and have adopted a loose hierarchy that suits us well as it empowers people to try out ideas that might help us along our journey. We have also adopted a series of ‘big rules’ that we all follow in running the project – the most important being that we are ‘non-political’ and ‘non-confrontational’. After all is said and done, we want to live in harmony as a village!”. If you are interested in taking the first step towards carbon-neutral, you can find advice on the project’s website.
Anyone interested in understanding more about the 15-year history of the project can also view a video of Garry Charnock’s presentation at the 2019 ACRE conference.