Andy BULL

Roger Léron Award 2018 Finalist

Andy Bull is an ‘early adopter’ of new sustainable technologies and ideas who saw the potential of on-farm anaerobic digestion in Mid Wales. Experienced in accessing EU funding and running EU funded projects (e.g. Biomethane Regions, Biogas Action), he could influence policy at local and national levels, build awareness and confidence with Welsh farmers and landowners. He began his career in sustainable energy in local authorities in the mid 80’s when energy was based on coal. He challenged these barriers and introduced the concept of sustainable energy, becoming a trustee for Mid Wales Energy Agency, Mid Wales Community Energy Trust, and Marches Energy Agency. He is also at the roots of Windfall (distributing a community benefit fund from a wind turbine project). His impact goes beyond Europe in a project supporting orphans in Bulabakulo, Uganda. Taking problems as opportunities, he connected people with solutions and the projects he supported in his career speak of a man that has worked quietly and strategically without self-promotion.

London, United Kingdom – Thursday 08 December 2016, ADBA – National Conference.

Description of the active role towards local sustainable energy in Europe:

Andy has always believed that the exchange of ideas and sharing of best practice brings strong and sustainable solutions and that the basis of European funding expects and encourages this. In the early 2000s, he sat on the working group that developed the business case for Rural Development funds for Powys and was the chairperson of the Local Advisory Group to Glasu – the Leader+ organisation in Powys from 2008 to 2015. He also was heavily involved in the shaping of projects for ERDF funding in Powys from 2000-2007 as a member of the Objective 2 Project Assessment Group. Throughout his career, Andy has been involved in accessing EU funding and running projects funded by Europe, whether as the main co-ordinator, or as a partner. Aware that farm waste was a growing concern in need of addressing, Andy saw the potential for on-farm anaerobic digestion. As such, one of the first AD projects Andy delivered was Biogas Regions which ran from 2007 to 2010, this was followed by Biomethane Regions (2011 2014) and Biogas Action (2015-2018). All these projects directly influenced policy at local and  national levels, built awareness and confidence with Welsh farmers and landowners and encouraged the development of market relevant products. During his time as a trustee for Mid Wales Energy Agency, Andy secured European funding for the Community Renewable Energy Development Fund, which enabled MWEA to support numerous renewable energy projects across Wales. In particular, Andy led a district biomass heating project at Llanwrdyn which was the first of its kind in Wales. It provided heat to around 30 homes, a school and a community centre which were previously reliant on electricity, oil, and LPG. Andy then encouraged the local authority to install house insulation, double glazing, and energy efficient street lighting. This seed of an idea totally transformed the community. Andy has often reached out to Europe for answers to sustainability issues in Wales, and many of the project partners he has met on the way have provided different perspectives with grass roots solutions; the European Union principle of co-operation and knowledge sharing at work.

Persistence:

Andy began his career in sustainable energy in local authorities in Wales in the mid 80’s when energy was centralised and the coal industry was thriving. The idea of a renewable decentralised energy supply was radical and unheard of. There was no active policy on renewables or energy efficiency at the time, or much understanding of the language of sustainability. Andy began his campaign to challenge these barriers and to introduce the concept of sustainable energy. He brought local and national policy makers from Wales into Europe so they could see at first hand sustainable approaches to energy supply. He approached problems as opportunities and connected people with solutions. He actively sought roles that would enable him to drive the local energy agenda forward.

Synopsis of Andy’s career path:

  • 1975-88 Planning Officer with Local Authorities in Wales 
  • 1988-96 Powys County Council. Planning Officer /Principal Planning Officer. Roles included planning policy, minerals planning, environmental policies and projects, sustainable development co-ordination. 
  • 1996-2002: Powys County Council. Head of Environmental Policy/Minerals and Principal Policy Officer. Working mostly on sustainable energy projects, minerals, and waste energy policy. During this time, the Council won the St George Award for Planning and Sustainability at the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Planning Awards,
  • 2002, 2002-2005: Seconded to Welsh Assembly Government to work on Technical Advice Note 8 – Planning for Renewable Energy and the promotion of renewable energy. 
  • 2007 – present – Severn Wye Energy Agency SWEA– set up the Welsh office of SWEA.

Impact:

In 1998, Andy led the partnership that obtained EU funds for “Community Based Renewable Energy” 1998-2002, which was trail-blazing at the time and attracted the Renewable Energy Partnership Award from the EU in 2002. In 2000, with EU funding Andy set up Powys Energy Agency, latterly Mid Wales Energy Agency. MWEA was responsible for ground-breaking projects, being the first in Wales to tackle domestic energy efficiency/fuel poverty via the Warm Front project. MWEA was also the first organisation to work with energy providers, via Standards of Performance (SOP), on their commitment to reduce energy consumption in the domestic sector. Many of the projects Andy instigated brought about growth in the renewables sector, created jobs and had a significant economic impact. In 2004, Andy cofounded Windfall which was set up to distribute a community benefit fund from a wind turbine project in mid Wales. He was also a trustee of both Mid Wales Community Energy Trust and the Marches Energy Agency. In 2001, Andy was introduced to a project supporting orphans in Bulabakulo, Uganda. This inspired him to set up the Africa Greater Life Mission UK charity, helping the project grow from 60 to 300 children. Fundraising, annual visits, and a sustainable approach to support – solar lighting kit, PV arrays, solar vaccine fridge, and a micro anaerobic digestion plant have all demonstrated Andy’s commitment to the charity. In 2012, Africa Greater Life Mission UK and their Ugandan partner received the United Nations Gold Star Award for their environmental good practice.

Strategic Vision:

Andy understood that influencing policy makers was an integral part of developing the strategic direction of sustainability in Wales. Whilst working at grass roots level leading by example, he also focused on connecting with government at both a local and a national level. This inclusive approach enabled him to inspire people at all levels to seek opportunities that would take sustainability forward.

  • Seconded from Powys County Council in 2002 to work for Welsh Government on TAN 8  – their renewable energy and planning policy strategy – and, he was responsible for drafting most of the document. 
  • A member of the National Assembly Sustainable Energy Group (NASEG) from 2000-2010 which was a forum for discussing energy strategy and innovation in Wales. The work from this group resulted in WG investment in RE and EE 
  • Wrote the energy chapter of the Powys Unitary Development Plan in the early 2000s 
  • One of the first signatories of the Sustainable Development Charter in Wales, which is now the Wellbeing and Future Generation act, identified as world leading by the UN. 
  • Presented at the Parliamentary Sustainable Energy Group’s Annual Conference and the 2006 World Sustainable Energy Days in Wels, Austria 
  • Was a founding member of the steering group that secured funding for the ‘Greener Homes and Buildings Event’ which was an annual event from May 2006 to 2010.

Leadership:

Andy has always been an ‘early adopter’ of new sustainable technologies and ideas and with the considerable trust and respect he has built up throughout his career, this has allowed him to influence and encourage others. Leading by example, he was the first person in the UK to install an Okofen boiler, and with his connections in Austria, worked tirelessly to support a small local business to become a UK supplier. Understanding the importance of a reliable supply chain, he set about developing the supply of pellets in Wales, enabling the market to develop with confidence. Once this was in place, he persuaded Powys County Council to replace an old school oil boiler with a pellet one, again the first school in the Wales to do so. This project inspired council officials and resulted in numerous schools throughout the county following suit. Before he left the council, he sourced funding and project managed the installation of 10 kWp photovoltaic array on the council’s building. These projects were developed with the awareness that they showcased renewable energy and would instill confidence and motivate the general public. Those that Andy has supported during his career speak of a man that has worked quietly and strategically without self-promotion. His dedication has been to the progression of sustainability by anticipating and influencing policy development and understanding how best to connect people.