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The South East SEC Team Day – Putting smiley faces and ticks on a new strategy

There’s a lot to look forward to over the next year.

The SEAI Sustainable Energy Communities programme has grown at an incredible rate even through Covid-19 with the number of communities in the Southeast growing from 50 communities in 2019 to 71 today.

All of these communities are working towards reducing their carbon footprint with the help of their County Mentor and Regional Coordinator with a lot of this work being done remotely or our in the communities themselves.

Monday the 16th of May was the first time since 2020 when all four County Mentors – Marina De Costa Carlow, Therese Curran Kilkenny, Yvonne Byrne Waterford and Fiona O’Loughlin, got to meet in-person with Gráinne Kennedy of 3cea the Regional Coordinator.

The purpose of the day was to come up with a strategy for how best we can support our communities for the next year. Everything was discussed from each county’s successes to the projects that can be prioritised to the skills that communities need to be resilient and to engage successfully with everyone in their community. We have come away with many actions to work on and with solidarity that together we give our communities what they need to transition to a sustainable energy future.

Start your sustainable community journey and join the SEC network today: https://3cea.ie/sectors/community/ 

Old Leighlin lead the way to mapping a plan to be part of the climate action programme

The All of Government Climate Action Plan aims to expand the SEC Network to 1500 communities all over Ireland receiving support to plan for a sustainable energy future.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Old Leighlin have done it again. Like they always do. Securing hard fought national grant aid to become Carlow’s first community with the first completed Energy Masterplan in County Carlow.

Old Leighlin is a beautiful place, standing on raised ground overlooking rolling hills and valleys with spectacular vistas.

Following several workshops, and community consultations, the community of Old Leighlin came together and held a public information meeting which was very well attended.  The local community group knew they were on to something. The positive energy in the room was evident and with that a clear vision emerged from the meeting – to establish Old Leighlin as an energy efficient community. The local community group, brimming with drive and dedication, worked in collaboration with Carlow County Development Partnership CLG, and with assistance from us 3cea, and Planenergy Consulting, to complete an Energy Masterplan with grant aid of €10,000 received from SEAI.

Following on from initiating and progressing the Energy Master Plan for the village, Old Leighlin explored different ways in which they could enhance and preserve its beautiful landscape to continue to maintain its natural ambience in a sustainable manner.

Old Leighlin are continuously looking to improve and explore innovative ways to address climate change and make a difference to all the community. Their interest in promoting Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation and Quality, and Biodiversity, are all fundamental essentials that the community believe are the tools needed to preserve ancient Old Leighlin while embracing modern Old Leighlin.

With constant support from Carlow County Development Partnership, Old Leighlin Community Hall and Old Leighlin Tidy Towns were able to access expertise and know-how to reflect on the value of what was present in their village and learn how to protect Old Leighlin and their natural resources into the future.

The Energy Master plan surveys and documents the community’s energy consumption and will also highlight buildings and areas where alterations and improvements can be made to upgrade energy efficiency reduce carbon emissions and reduce consumption in the community. This will enable members to carry out necessary upgrades, where possible thereby, reducing their energy bills, and afford a more comfortable and sustainable living.

Representatives from Old Leighlin stated that the support received from Carlow County Development Partnership made a complicated process much easier. Alice, a committee member from Old Leighlin said ‘we are really delighted to have got this far. The support from the community and from Carlow Development, at each and every step made the difference.  They supported and enabled us to focus on the next step rather than get overwhelmed by the whole project, which still seems enormous to us. I have to say that while the detail required for the application worried people within the community at the start, bit by bit we found the confidence to keep going’. She further commented on the Water conservation and Biodiversity training programme which were also facilitated by Carlow Development through LEADER funding.

Speaking to the Nationalist, Marina DeCosta of Carlow Development extended her congratulations to the community of Old Leighlin and added ‘the journey was long and hard. Sometimes it felt we would have to take a step back, particularly in light of the complications and hurdles that were created due to COVID. However, the resilience and determination of the committee along with partners 3cea and Planenergy overcame a multitude of barriers. Old Leighlin can proudly take ownership of the very first EMP to be launched in County Carlow.

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