A community energy project has won a national award for its part helping to tackle fuel poverty in northern Devon.

361 Energy CIC has been presented with National Energy Action’s Warm Homes Campaign Award for innovation for its Empower project.

This has been tackling the problem of cold homes and high energy bills across northern Devon – it is estimated some 14.2 per cent of households in Torridge are living in fuel poverty, with some areas of Torridge thought to be as high as 22 per cent.

361 Energy says since September 2016 it has helped residents save close to £100,000 and to stay warmer at home this winter.

The Empower project aims to give local people help and advice to tackle the problem of cold homes and high energy bills.

The award was presented on Friday, National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, at the Burton Art Gallery in Bideford, hosted by 361 Energy and attended by the mayor and guests.

The Warm Homes Campaign launched with a report highlighting that over a million families nationally won’t be able to meet basic costs of living this winter, facing an income shortfall of up to £9,331 per year (£778 per month) to cover basic essentials, including energy.

Nicola Corrigan, chairman of 361 Energy, said: “Living in a cold damp home can lead to extremely poor health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as older people, young children, and those with long term sickness and disabilities.

“Stagnant earnings, rising inflation, limited welfare and high energy prices are the perfect storm.

“In North Devon, 14.2 per cent of households are believed to be in fuel poverty, higher than the national average of 11 per cent.”

Bideford mayor Dermot McGough watched the presentation at the Burton and said: “I want to thank 361 Energy and National Energy Action for making Bideford aware of the problems we face.

“I could not believe some of the statistics – for me as the mayor it is quite shocking and we definitely need to address it.

“I look forward to working hard together in the future to help Bideford and Torridge in general.”

Anyone living in a cold home or concerned about their energy bills can contact 361 Energy CIC on 01271 599361 or email info@361energy.org