The Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, has today announced funding to the tune of £10 million for local community energy projects and a £20 million increase to the existing public sector energy efficiency loan scheme.

The newly-announced £10 million Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) will be managed by a number of community networks and administered by the Energy Savings Trust. The LEAF scheme will be run as a competition, with local community organisations offered the chance to win £50,000 for every one of the 200 successful applicants. The short-term scheme is designed to help local communities asses the potential for energy efficiency and engage in local renewable energy generation by the end of March 2012.

Huhne said: “We need to get green energy generation and energy efficiency into our communities. That’s why we are making £10million available for communities to help spur an energy revolution at a local level.”

The Government has also announced a Community Energy Group who have been charged with investigating how local energy opportunities can be further explored in communities.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “The Government is making huge changes to the UK’s energy system, including reforms to the electricity market to make sure that we can replace aging power stations and keep the lights on in the cheapest, cleanest way.

“I want to make sure that local communities are at the heart of this energy revolution, and this funding will help make sure that can happen.”

A further £20 million of funding has also been made available for public sector energy efficiency projects in England. The Salix loans will be provided to cover the cost of energy efficiency projects that pay for themselves. The loans are intended to help reduce the public sector’s carbon emissions and energy bills before the end of March 2012.

The announcement of £30 million worth of funding comes after the Government recently proposed plans to reduce the subsidy provided for aggregated solar schemes, which had been largely embraced by local councils and social housing schemes as a means of providing local renewable energy generation for communities.

Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Donna Hume commented: “New Government cash to encourage investment in clean energy for communities is welcome, but ironic considering Ministers' botched plans to slash payments for solar electricity. The fund's strict rules mean it will do little to save the countless community clean energy schemes and jobs that are already being abandoned because of the payment cut.

“Ministers must rethink their devastating solar plans if they are serious about tackling rocketing fuel bills – and investigate the role of the Big Six energy firms in keeping us hooked on expensive fossil fuels.”

Organisations including parish councils, voluntary associations, development trusts and faith groups can get details of how to apply for the LEAF scheme here.