Two community development initiatives in a rural South Lanarkshire village are introducing energy efficiency measures and cutting carbon emissions - that's thanks to funding from distribution and transmission network operator, SP Energy Networks.

Auchengray Church Centre has benefitted from a low carbon renovation with the installation of an innovative ground source heat pump and insulation, which allows it to reduce carbon emission, improve insulation and provide an important space for the local community to enjoy.

Also reaping the rewards of the £85,000 grant from SP Energy Networks' Green Economy Fund is Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax Improvement Foundation (WAT IF), who have used the funding to purchase a seven-seater electric vehicle to support Lanarkshire residents to access vital appointments and community activities.

The investment from the Green Economy Fund will enable both WAT IF and Auchengray Church Centre to reduce their carbon footprints, with an expected reduction of 21.7 tonnes in CO2 emissions in the next year.

The projects are being funded as part of SP Energy Networks’ £20m initiative, which supports the UK and Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to meet climate change targets.

The fund also aims to boost local economic growth, improve air quality across the country and deliver a better future, quicker for all.

funding helps rural lanarkshire groups to reduce their carbon footprint

© Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com SP Energy Networks is funding electric vehicles for five Lanarkshire community organisations

Alongside WAT IF and Auchengray Church Centre Trust, SP Energy Networks is directly funding five other community organisations in North and South Lanarkshire to purchase 100 per cent electric vehicles that are low floor accessible - those include Glenboig, Cumbernauld Action on Care of the Elderly, Rural Development Trust, Larkhall and Getting Better Together Shotts.

These new all-electric fleets will provide transport solutions to assist vulnerable communities, while helping to improve the air quality in the region.

Pat Mavor from WAT IF told Lanarkshire Live : “We are delighted to begin the move to an electric fleet that will reduce our CO2 emissions and benefit the most vulnerable in our community.

"We are extremely thankful to SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund as without them this would not have been possible.

funding helps rural lanarkshire groups to reduce their carbon footprint

© Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com Fifteen local groups meet within the church centre

“Our new fully electric and zero-emissions vehicle will support our long-term plan to provide vital transport services and green community development projects to the people of Lanarkshire.”

Prior to the COVID pandemic, Auchengray Church Centre was playing a major role in the community by providing a venue for 15 local groups to meet, share skills and to grow friendships.

These included three women's interest groups, general interest/hobbyist groups and events, Auchengray Primary School, the Wee Church Café, the community council, the Community Church, WAT Group and WAT IF.

Family gatherings and community events further helped to strengthen the community and build connectivity.

With the completion of its heating and insulation project, the centre has doubled its useable space and now will be able to accommodate additional activities in response to needs such as loneliness, mental health concerns, dementia and care of carers.

funding helps rural lanarkshire groups to reduce their carbon footprint

© Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com Auchengray Church Centre is a lifeline for many

Campbell Fisher, chairman at Auchengray Church Centre Trust, said: “The centre is a lifeline for so many people in our local community and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we’ve received from SP Energy Networks.

The new ground source heat pump system will future proof our building by reducing carbon emissions, improving insulation and enhancing the church space for the community to use and enjoy.”

Frank Mitchell, CEO at SP Energy Networks, added: “We’re pleased to have supported a number of community organisations in North and South Lanarkshire through our Green Economy Fund, enabling the purchase of 26 electric vehicles and other green infrastructure to help reduce carbon emissions and support our local communities.

“We’re proud our funding has helped these project begin to build an electric fleet that will allow them to play their part in improving Lanarkshire’s air quality and supporting some of the region’s most vulnerable residents.

funding helps rural lanarkshire groups to reduce their carbon footprint

© Sandy Young/scottishphotographer.com The electric vehicles will support local communities

"By keeping vulnerable communities connected, these projects can make a real difference to people’s mental health in these areas by helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

“The decarbonisation of heat is also crucial in the transition to a low carbon economy. That’s why we supported energy projects focussed on tackling fuel poverty, driving forward energy system innovation, or accelerating the move to low carbon heating of our homes and buildings.

"The Green Economy Fund provided funding to install a ground source heat pump at Auchengray Church Centre to cut carbon emissions, insulate the building and provide a space for the community to enjoy.

"Around a quarter of all UK gas emissions come from provision of heat and it will take a combined effort from the government, regulator and industry to find greener solutions.”

SP Energy Networks is part of the ScottishPower group, a principal partner for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in two months’ time.

It is developing an energy model that will play a significant role towards reaching the UK’s world-leading climate change targets and is investing a total of £10bn in the clean energy generation and networks infrastructure needed to help the UK decarbonise and reach Net Zero emissions.

So far, 35 projects have been awarded funding from SP Energy Networks across Central and Southern Scotland. To find out more about the Green Economy Fund and the projects it supports, visit their website.

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