Rory Stewart MP has paid a visit to a public awareness-raising session of Sustainable Keswick (SusKes) and Derwent 7 to learn more about the group’s plans to turn commercial food waste into renewable energy and fertiliser for local use, including Threlkeld Parish in his constituency of Penrith and The Border.

The meeting was organised by Rural Cumbria Connects (RCC), a consortium of local community energy groups supported by CAFS which works to develop renewable rural energy projects. It is supporting SusKes and Derwent 7 in a study looking into the potential for the deployment of micro anaerobic digesters, with Threlkeld Village Hall and Cafe on the long-list as a potential beneficiary. A leaflet has been distributed to all households in the Derwent 7 parishes, with “positive support”, according to RCC representatives.

Rory Stewart MP said: “I was grateful for the opportunity to meet some of the team behind SusKes and Derwent 7, and to learn what the potential benefits for Threlkeld in my constituency might be. Overall, I very much support initiatives that look at ways of reducing food waste, something I was closely involved in as a DEFRA Minister. I think it is important that communities take time to learn about the benefits associated with micro anaerobic digesters, as well as the potential difficulties; the initiative should be well researched, which seems to be happening thanks to these helpful public-engagement sessions.”

SusKes and Derwent 7 representative said: “A few local organisations have started looking into whether we can do this here, using a network of anaerobic digesters at the micro scale. Micro digesters are small enough to sit next to community facilities which then use the energy they generate. We are grateful for Rory’s visit here today.”