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Derbyshire council praised for trailblazing home insulation scheme

A scheme to retrofit homes in Amber Valley with energy efficiency upgrades has been hailed as “hugely successful” by a visiting contingent of net zero experts.

Amber Valley Borough Council has been collaborating with Shirebrook-based private insulation contractor Westville and Futures Housing Group to improve the energy efficiency of hundreds of homes in the region.

The project, supported by funding from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, has already won a national Building Communities Award this year for the collaborative nature of the public-private sector scheme.

A contingent of decarbonisation experts representing the Midlands Net Zero Hub has now made a special trip to Fletcher Street, in Ripley, which was one of the areas that benefitted from the scheme, in order to learn how other local authorities could follow Amber Valley’s lead.

A total of 92 mixed-tenure properties in Ripley received upgrades, saving residents an average of £540 per year in energy bills and reducing carbon emissions by 83 tonnes.

Midlands Net Zero Hub, hosted by Nottingham City Council, helps to drive and facilitate decarbonisation strategies across the Midlands, from Lincolnshire to Herefordshire.

Wayne Bexton, senior responsible officer for the Midlands Net Zero Hub, who led the fact-finding trip from Nottingham, said: “This Local Authority Delivery retrofit scheme has been hugely successful. 

“Facilitated by Amber Valley Borough Council and its contractor Westville, it has made a real difference to the community and benefitted residents with warmer homes that are cheaper to run.

“It was great to get out and visit the site, and I am extremely proud of the Midlands Net Zero Hub and their work to drive retrofit across the wider region, ultimately advancing progress towards net zero. Thanks to all the partners and their desire to make this work so fantastically well.”

During their visit, Hub members learned how issues with power lines and roofline extensions were overcome to ensure minimum delays to residents.

One Fletcher Street resident’s feedback was: “My house and the whole street is totally transformed, I’m now proud to live here, rather than being known as ‘the scruffy street’.”

The scheme, which was originally awarded £1.7m in funding was extended this year with a further £1.5m in grants. A total of £4.77m has been invested in energy saving schemes since 2021, where eligible residents were invited to apply to take part.

Amber Valley Borough Council has already improved the energy efficiency of 410 homes across the borough.

Councillor Matthew Allwood, cabinet member for housing and public health, said: “We’re delighted to have shared our successes in Ripley with Wayne and the Midlands Net Zero Hub team.

“Not only has the scheme benefited residents in Amber Valley, it now stands to benefit many other residents across the Midlands, which makes us extremely proud as a council.”

David Arkle, head of housing and growth at Amber Valley Borough Council, said: “The key to our success has been this collaboration between public and private organisations. It is certainly proven to be the way forward and is something we are very happy to help promote across other regions.” 

He added: “With cabinet approval, plans continue for the council to work to offer residents access to funding for improvements to the energy efficiency of their home.”