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Speaking at the Social Enterprise and Community Renewable Energy (SECRE) Conference the Fermanagh Trust stressed the opportunities in the renewable energy sector for local communities. The conference held at the Manor House Hotel and hosted by the University of Ulster and Action Renewables was an opportunity for SECRE to present their findings after working closely with organisations and communities involved in the sector and show attendees how to take advantage of the profit making opportunities presented by renewables.
"The Fermanagh Trust has played a key role in both supporting social enterprises and advancing community energy, it was therefore a pleasure to address today’s conference." outlined guest speaker Graeme Dunwoody from the Fermanagh Trust.
"Today's conference was very timely in light of the number of local development groups who are exploring community energy projects. Community energy is the next big area for Social enterprise development here. With the right support and encouragement in ten years time the potential exists for social enterprise community energy initiatives to match the success of the credit union movement and the community Playgroup sector. The conference and areas discussed can make an important contribution to this development" emphasised Graeme Dunwoody.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster, who opened the conference said “The issue of community benefit and engagement from such projects is becoming increasingly important. Working together, project developers and local communities can ensure that the potential of this emerging sector is maximised for the good of all. Renewable energy is not the sole preserve of large developers. I hope that communities and social enterprises can take advantage of the information and resources available and reap the economic, social and environmental rewards”.
At the conference SECRE highlighted the completion of its research project with the launch of CommonPower, a renewable energy consultancy service to support social enterprises in accessing and benefitting from renewable projects. A recent ‘Community Energy’ action plan produced by the Fermanagh Trust said that local communities face many challenges particularly in the current economic climate, but renewable projects present an opportunity to help tackle these challenges. With the right support, such developments can generate a long-term sustainable income for social enterprises.