Local environmental group closes in on £1m prize to save the planet

The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) today revealed that ‘The Green Valleys’ community group from Bannau Brycheiniog National Park has made it onto the nationwide shortlist for a slice of the million-pound Big Green Challenge prize fund.
Four communities from Crai, Trecastle, Llangynidr and Talybont-on-Usk have come up with innovative ways to cut their carbon emissions through their Green Valleys project, by developing community owned hydro electric installations and providing financial assistance for local landowners to develop their own energy generation systems. The revenue generated will be ploughed back into assisting the development of other renewable energy installations, local community food initiatives and working towards mitigating the effects of climate change that are increasingly apparent in the region.
Selected from hundreds of initial entries received by NESTA, the shortlist is made up of a diverse array of groups including local network organisations, schools, charities and social enterprises. The shortlisted groups now have until the beginning June to complete more detailed plans about how their ideas will work and will receive access to a range of experts to help them.
The Green Valleys Project will be hoping to make the cut when the top 100 groups are whittled down to ten finalists in July, each of whom will receive up to £20,000, plus advice and support to get their green projects up and running over a year.  At the end of the competition the groups with the most imaginative and successful approach to cutting carbon emissions will win a share of the £1m prize.
Speaking of their success, Grenville Ham, Community Development Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and Co-ordinator for The Green Valleys Project said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to have made it through to the next round of the Big Green Challenge. We believe that our idea will make a real difference to the future of our region including the generation of power, economic regeneration, and a huge reduction in the amount of carbon being produced.

“We’re confident that our model has the capability to ease our regions transition through Peak Oil, Climate Change and a potential recession and will also enable other regions to adopt our model with similar benefits to themselves. Our next public meeting is being held at Crai Community Centre on Thursday 22nd May at 7:30 pm and I urge anyone with an interest in saving the planet to come along and join our ground-breaking project.”
Commenting on the group’s shortlisting, NESTA Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum added:
“We’re delighted to announce that The Green Valleys Project has made it through to the next stage of the Big Green Challenge. We launched the prize fund to encourage people to get together and come up with great ways to save the planet, and we’ve had an amazing reaction from groups right across the UK.
“Moving forward we hope to see The Green Valleys  local communities getting behind this exciting and innovative project, as they demonstrate how their ideas could really have an impact in the fight to combat climate change.”
Those interested in learning more about all the groups on the Big Green Challenge shortlist should go to www.biggreenchallenge.org.uk   For further information please contact Grenville Ham on  01874 620451 (daytime) 01874 622622 (evening) or email  grenville.ham@breconbeacons.org