We completed an experience sharing at RES pioneers in Jindřichovice
Our team of the project “100% RES communities” chose for a working farewell with our Austrian partners an in many ways inspirational village Jindřichovice pod Smrkem. This northernmost cape of the Liberec region is a pioneer of rural development policies based on RES in the Czech Republic.
How and why a clean “small energetics” became a mover of awakening but why a local crusade against emissions has after all not awaken neighbouring villages to follow as well as municipalities in our partners climatic region Waldviertel Kernland (WK) did? So we came there to find it out in a small group with representatives of WK region and LAG Mezilesí in the middle of March.
The mayor Pavel Novotný and the deputy mayor Luboš Salaba prefered facts, opinions and experience to us during our last face-to-face meeting.
In the decades context...
The pre-war township Jindřichovice pod Smrkem numbered up to 2 500 inhabitants. The remaining buildings of developed secession (nowadays e.g. Rest Home villas) and sextuple-tracked railway station, proving former important transport hub, reminded a previous nickname of this place - "Little Vienna". The decline came after the post-war displacement of one-third of the German population and after an abolishment of a textile factory. People moved out also in the era of socialism building and "management" of agricultural farm in the 60th. During last two decades the municipality, located on the mountains reverse side of Bohemia almost in contact with Poland and Germany, has had around 650 inhabitants. It has been attracting attention of many excursions. They are interested in a variety of projects and plans based on the selected concept of sustainability and working towards self-sufficiency.
Two guests came from Austria: Georg Carl Priesner, an Austrian project leader from the Climate Alliance Vienna office, and an energy appointee of the WK climatic region Thomas Waldhans. Both of them visited us twice before (the Kněžice region and Prague as well) so they know about the situation in the field of RES and SEAP development in the Czech Republic quite a lot. Likewise, Czech meeting participants, the mayor of Kněžice village Milan Kazda with his deputy mayor Jana Sedláčková and the mayor of Záhornice village Jiří Hladký, learned about the situation in the Austrian WK region in this field earlier during our study travels to “teaching” partners. The group, including three Czech project coordinators, was welcomed by the local mayor and his deputy in a local community centre (a club café next to a municipal house and a sport facility).
What is new under the airscrews?
Municipal representatives got us to know recent happening in the village. We can pass over energy economy since it is a part of the other article on this website. Let us bring out just a few information and observations, which captivated us and our guests during the discussion in the café or later on during a walk around the wind power plant with the info-centre, along the path of eight energy efficient family houses for young families, which removed here because of local nature, ecological movement of this village and a vibrant community life:
- This year will the village end up a back-payment of a bank credit for the wind plant after 12 years (investment of CZK 82 million, a half was paid from the state subsidy). So the whole profit from an electricity sale will come into a municipal treasury in the near future. They could repay this investment earlier by giving all the profit “away” but municipal representatives have set a loose payment schedule to subsidy coffers little bit (CZK two millions for the back-payment and one million for the village per year).
- Just the wind plant fulfils a municipal eco-fund with CZK 100 000 per year. They are used for individual energy projects (RES utilization, family house thermal insulation) and ecological measures. (E.g. the village does not have water piping or canalization. In accordance with self-sufficiency strengthening it supports individual water wells and root sewerage plants.) The fund is spent every year.
- A biomass heating plant on wood chips (two boilers with a total output of 200 kW) is an assurance. The village has its forests as well as a machine (with loader) for wood chips preparation, which it can lend for payment to other persons concerned. A constant consumer of heat – a rest house – helps to repay a bank credit with CZK 25 000 per month. The plant and coherent activities have brought 18 berths so the village is the biggest employee here.
- A visit of a living open-air museum of a local family complemented a portrait of the village. They have an operational wind flour mill, which grinds flour time to time. This farm (eco-centre), resurgent during summer time thanks to volunteers, lives mainly from grants. It is an attractive stop for (bicycle-) tourists too.
- Likewise, a private open-air museum of folk constructions named the “Czech World” in neighbouring village Dolní Řasnice is open to interested people. This local “oasis of the past” keeps alive a previous journalist Milan Maršálek, without grants just according his time and financial potentialities, as a reminder of former life in a part of the Sudetenland, which was so devastated after Germans displacement and socialist economy…
Both retro-stops, even without RES issue (except wind flour mill), played their role in a program of our face-to-face meeting. They show, what else is possible to include into a comprehensive well-considered conception of regional development, when local actors co-operate (as we saw at our Austrian friends in WK region).
However, here in Frýdlant region is a deeper municipalities co-operation perceived as a risk. E.g. in the interest of flood control measures some villages along a local little river prepared common conception and associated investments. Unfortunately some villages retreated from commitments after local elections (municipal representatives exchange), projects are threatened, … and distrust grows.
Our visit to Jindřichovice and its neighbourhood showed us possibilities as well as risks of common “regional awareness”. Although this region can profit from the co-operation with operational people from Polish and German regions “just behind hills” (e.g. in the field of low emissions eco-energy) such a tendency will be still probably more a chance then a reality for some time (a generation behind Austrian examples).
Author: Karel Merhaut
Photo: Táňa Dutkevičová, Karel Merhaut