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Exciting Low Carbon Future for Former Primary School

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A key regeneration project developed by Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) in Cwmgors in the Swansea Valley, has received a huge funding boost. National Lottery have awarded £400,000 to ‘Hwb y Gors’ – this is name for the redevelopment of the former primary school in the village.

Hwb y Gors also recently received a grant of £250,000 from the Welsh Government Community Facilities Programme.

Hwb y Gors will create a thriving low carbon enterprise centre. It will contain office accommodation, artists’ studios, education and community facilities. The centre will be a base for sustainable projects that support local people, organisations and businesses to flourish.

30kW of rooftop solar has already been installed and heat will be provided via a ground source heat pump.

Mary Ann Brocklesby, Chair of Trustees said

“We are delighted by this news. It’s important that the former primary school is retained as a community asset”.

Sonia Reynolds, County Councillor for Cwmgors said “The building has been derelict for a few years now so it’s great that it’s going to be redeveloped with community use at its heart.”

Jeremy Miles, Senedd Member for Neath said

“Hwb y Gors has got real momentum now. The Welsh Government has already awarded £250k to the project so I’m really pleased that that this has helped lever further support from the Lottery.”

Rebecca Blanche, Funding Officer at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “National Lottery players continue to make an incredible contribution to supporting communities in Wales every time they buy a ticket. It’s fantastic to see National Lottery players enabling people to make an big difference in their communities thanks to projects like this.”

Some examples of what will happen inside the building are:

  • Youth Club in partnership with Canolfan Maerdy, a leading local charity
  • Community electric vehicle car club and charge points
  • Studio workshops: Activities such as pottery, textiles and art facilities which will be open to the public. Rentable studio spaces for artists.
  • Internet Café /Homework area for young people. The café will cater for local community, businesses and organisations. Space and access to laptops for young people to do homework, particularly in light of the recent experiences from Covid 19. Potential to incorporate a Creative Café (pottery making) for some sessions/weekends.
  • Canolfan Maerdy are looking to expand their Food Hub to the centre and we will facilitate cooking/nutrition classes.

Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) is a community energy charity which has been operating for 20 years. Our prime drivers are tackling climate change, job creation and engaging people in energy. We’ve set up two co-ops, Awel and Egni which have over 1500 members including 75 schools and community organisations such as Merched y Wawr, Friends of Pontardawe Arts Centre and local regeneration charities such as Canolfan Maerdy, Black Mountain Centre and the Cwmllynfell Millenium Hall.

Egni Co-op funds and manages PV installations in Wales. Here’s a recent film made by double BAFTA Cymru winner, Mike Harrison about the largest rooftop solar project in Wales on the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome in Newport https://youtu.be/ZC80dcRmla0

Egni has now raised £3.5m so far from a community share offer. We also secured a £2.12m loan from the Development Bank of Wales to fund the installs which are ongoing.  This is the biggest rollout of rooftop solar in Welsh history www.egni.coop

Egni has installed more than 4MWp on 83 sites in Wales which:

Saves £105k/year in electricity costs

Reduces carbon emissions by over 1,000t/year

The Awel Aman Tawe team have also delivered the award-winning Awel Co-op, a 4.7MW community wind farm which was commissioned in Jan 2017. It was funded by a £5.25m loan from Triodos Bank and a £3m community share offer www.awel.coop.

Egni Co-op won Outstanding Renewable Energy Project in an award sponsored by Welsh Government & Awel Aman Tawe was recognised as Environmental Organisation of the Year in the Social Enterprise UK Awards.