Oldham Council has welcomed visitors from across Europe ahead of the start of a new project to help develop community energy schemes.

Representatives from as far and wide as Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Germany all gathered for a meeting at the Civic Centre yesterday.

The meeting was the first step in a five-year project which will see public bodies from across Europe work together to share expertise to help community energy projects get off the ground.

It will also compliment Generation Oldham; a local initiative which helps local companies and community organisations to install energy generating equipment and energy efficiency measures in their buildings and the Greater Manchester Community Energy Innovation project which does so on a regional level.

It is hoped the project, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), will eventually help to develop new schemes and lower bills for local residents, businesses, schools and community groups who take part.

The programme has been named COALESCCE (Community owned and led energy for security climate change and employment).