A green funding boost of more than £900,000 will help people in some of Oxfordshire’s most hard-up areas cut their energy bills.

The money will also help fund the hydro-power plant residents plan to install in the River Thames beside Osney Lock.

Oxford is one of only nine areas in Europe and the only one in the UK to be awarded the £930,000 in grant funding from the European Agency on Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI).

Areas such as Barton, Rose Hill and Blackbird Leys could now benefit from a scheme which has been trialled in 100 homes in Barton. Residents were offered measures to improve insulation, boilers, smart meters, solar panels and others steps to help tackle fuel poverty.

Environmental sustainability manager at Oxford City Council Jo Caulwell said budget shortages had led the authority to seek more private investment.

About 70 per cent of the money will go to the city, and about 30 per cent will go to other programmes in the county.

She said: “This is about reaching people who are below the breadline, are in poverty and really do need help.

“You could see solar PVs on the roof of your community centre later in the year.

“The money will be kept in the community and spent on what the people want.

“We will also be looking to raise funds by joining partnerships. We want people who are willing to invest.”

Barbara Hammond, director of the Low Carbon Hub, said one such project set to benefit was the micro-hydro scheme on Osney Island.

The scheme, which would provide enough power for up to 50 homes, caused concern among residents about the felling of trees on the site, next to Osney Weir, but a public consultation at the weekend came out in favour of the plans.

Ms Hammond said: “The Oxford area has been chosen to receive this funding because we have already shown how community energy can work – now we can go further and faster.

“By making these schemes a reality in Oxfordshire, we can inspire others across the UK to do the same.”

Oxfordshire County Council will attempt to make larger scale renewable energy projects a reality on public buildings across the county such as schools and libraries.

City councillor John Tanner, board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, added: “This is a fantastic Christmas present for Oxford and our low carbon future. The city council will work with the Low Carbon Hub and the county council to create community-based renewable energy projects.

“This European funding will mean lots more hydro, ground heat, solar and wind projects in the Oxford area.”

  • For more information on how to join or create your own low carbon community group log on to lowcarbonhub.org