TEN New Forest schools are taking part in a pioneering project that aims to cut their energy consumption by ten per cent.

Over the next two years the schools will monitor their energy usage and attempt to achieve a major reduction in consumption of gas, electricity and fuel oil.

Hampshire County Council and the New Forest National Park Authority is helping fund the project. It has been devised by a group called New Forest Transition, which is highlighting the need to create a more sustainable way of living.

Pupils will visit Minstead Study Centre, where they will learn more about energy saving and sustainable living.

The schools will be given a free energy audit and will also be provided with a thermalimaging camera, which will identify buildings that are losing too much heat.

Once the schools have started to cut their energy use, nearby homes and businesses will be encouraged to follow suit.

Project co-ordinator Cathy Cook commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for children to be involved in kick-starting a major energy saving initiative across the New Forest.

“We know the youngsters will be keen to save as much energy as they can in their schools and the wider community.”

The project was launched at a ceremony attended by school staff, members of New Forest Transition and a representative from the county council.

The schools taking part are: Abbotswood Junior, Bartley Junior, Bransgore Primary, Breamore Primary, Burley Primary, Foxhills Junior, Hordle Primary, Morgan’s Vale Primary, South Baddesley Primary, and Tiptoe Primary.

The ten schools will exchange ideas and information.

Sheila Slattery, business manager at Hordle Primary, said: “Our school is thrilled to be part of this collaborative project.

“Recycling ideas and successes between schools will ensure that our sustainable dreams become a reality.”