Eden Project tackles fuel poverty with co-op plan

Tim Smit Tim Smit says the buying power of big organisations could bring prices down for poor consumers

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Eden Project bosses are working with health and local authorities to ease people's fuel poverty in Cornwall.

Managers at the St Austell eco-park plan to create a Cornwall Together co-op to buy electricity at lower-than-market prices.

They will then get people who are in fuel poverty, defined as those that spend more than 10% of their income on fuel, to join.

Eden founder Tim Smit hopes the scheme could start in autumn 2013.

More than a quarter of all Cornwall households were affected by fuel poverty in 2009, government figures show.

'Green' investments

Mr Smit said: "We are seeing if we can use our buying power to create a membership organisation with those in fuel poverty as members.

"So the cost benefit of all of us buying fuel goes straight back into taking the cost out.

"It's going to be hugely important for fuel poverty and essential in terms of health inequality because a lot of people who end up in hospital are living in damp houses."

He said Cornwall Council was "right behind it" and Eden would be making a presentation in early March.

Mr Smit also said the Eden Project was bidding to become the home to the new Green Investment Bank, a government initiative designed to channel money into firms developing green technology.

He said: "We have probably the most environmentally-friendly office building in Cornwall.

"It could be fantastically important because you have ready made partners in Cornwall to develop pilot projects such as for geothermal energy."

Business Secretary Vince Cable has received more than 30 bids from across the UK, including one from Torbay in Devon, to host the bank.

Ministers are expected to make a decision in March.

To watch the full interview visit the BBC Spotlight Facebook page.

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