British Gas to invest £50m in Cornwall
Tens of thousands of the poorest households in Cornwall will benefit from one of the single largest energy efficiency investments in European history.
British Gas announced yesterday that it will provide £50 million to install energy efficiency saving measures in the homes of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the county that could see their fuel bills slashed by hundreds of pounds.
While it represents good news for Cornwall, a British Gas spokeswoman said yesterday that she could not say whether such a scheme would be rolled out in Devon.
The landmark deal for Cornwall is the first of its kind in the country and comes alongside another £50 million commitment from the energy giant to help people access funding for energy saving improvements in their own homes, as part of the Government's flagship Green Deal programme.
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As part of the agreement, that has been negotiated between Cornwall Council's Green Cornwall team and British Gas, the company also pledged to set aside half of the 140 jobs it creates for people in training or who are unemployed, as well as ensuring 60% of work is carried out by small and medium-sized local firms.
Andrew Bacon, British Gas director, said: "British Gas was determined to build a partnership with Cornwall Council to meet their very ambitious goals to reduce fuel poverty and tackle the wide-range of energy challenges that local residents and businesses face across Cornwall.
"This partnership will bring real local economic benefits including new jobs and green skills, but also will help local communities take more control over their energy management and cost."
The investment by British Gas will deliver the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) and Green Deal schemes.
Although the ECO criteria is yet to be set, households on benefits or low incomes will be able to make improvements such as added insulation, boiler upgrades and solar panels to their homes. The Green Deal initiative allows homeowners to make energy saving improvements to their homes without having to pay all the cost up front and then pay those back through electricity bills.
Carolyn Rule, Cornwall Council cabinet member, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Cornwall has managed to secure this ring-fenced funding from British Gas.
"In a climate where people are struggling with bills, it is more important than ever to ensure that Cornish homes are upgraded to make them as comfortable as possible.
"It is also important to remember the long term health benefits for people living in warmer and drier homes, particularly older people and children."
British Gas will work with local organisations to ensure that take-up is as simple as possible and that the most vulnerable residents have access to the grant funding.