LOCATION: West Oxford
AIM: To reduce the carbon footprint of West Oxford through encouraging and enabling more sustainable lifestyles amongst residents.
BACKGROUND: Low Carbon West Oxford (LCWO) was established by a group of community residents concerned about the local effects of climate change after the summer floods of 2007. It is a community-led initiative, with over 240 members and supporters in the community, seeking inclusive engagement in, and benefits from, LCWO’s projects. In March 2010, the association became a registered charity. It is a member of Oxfordshire’s Community Action Group network, and since its initiation has merged with West Oxford Waste Watchers, the Osney Island Sustainable Group and the West Oxford Wildlife Group.
ACTIVITIES: A number of sub-groups have been established, each with a different focus:
- The transport group aims to promote the use of low carbon means of transport through, for example: setting up a local StreetCar scheme, supporting a wider city campaign for 20mph speed limits on residential roads and under the railway bridge; helping Cyclox to produce a cycling map for Oxford.
- The food group promotes the production and consumption of sustainable sources of food, including local food, through for example: producing an awareness-raising calendar in 2009; working with schools to organise a meat-free day each month; working with the new disability group who will be running a community café; organising a spring event including a seed and seedling swap; putting on a jam and preserve training seminar; mapping existing fruit trees in the area; promoting sustainable consumption through the website; and contributing to the development of a new community orchard/allotment.
- The tree and wildlife group, works with school children and Woodcraft Folk to plant trees, and has created three newly planted areas named by the children as ‘Wiggly Waggly Wood’, ‘Peace Wood’ and ‘The Wild West Wood’. The group also set up a new wildlife area, with support from the Forest of Oxford, on the site of a former playground in Botley Park, growing many varieties of native trees, wildflowers and shrubs.
- The waste reduction group aims to reduce waste through the reduction, re-use, sharing and recycling of products. Activities have included: a plastic bag survey in the area; distribution of cotton bags to local residents; working with shop owners to reduce use of plastic bags; reusing old plastic bags to make arts and crafts, and new stronger bags; organising two bring and take events, and a number of litter picks.
- West Oxford Community Renewables; a climate change project, has raised money from a mix of government grants, prize money and its own share offer, which is used to invest in community renewable energy projects, such as solar PVs on buildings, a micro-hydro in the Thames, and small wind projects on surrounding hills. The electricity is sold to building/land owners (with any excess sold to the grid) and the surplus donated to Low Carbon West Oxford to fund further carbon reduction projects in the community.