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Clean energy - Co-operatives UK urges government to help communities take control

20 October, 2012
Co-operatives UK, along with a coalition of national organisations, has urged the government to implement a series of policies designed to dramatically increase the number of communities that can control, generate, save and benefit from their own clean energy.

Leading figures from across the co-operative movement, the charity sector and the Church of England met Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to launch a ‘manifesto for a community energy revolution’ which sets out a series of policy measures to increase community owned renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Co-operatives UK has also released a report by Cornwall Energy which investigates how community energy will be affected by the forthcoming Energy Bill. The report concludes that under the current proposals, community energy will be severely disadvantaged in the new energy market. Co-operatives UK will call upon the government to make the new system work for community and co-operative projects.

Estimates show that the potential for community owned renewable energy installed by 2020 in the UK to be a significant 3.5 GW, the equivalent of four conventional power stations. Said Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, said: "There is huge enthusiasm for co-operatively owned energy. But it is very difficult for co-operatives to compete in the energy market, as regulations and incentives are designed for the bigger players. With the forthcoming Energy Bill, and the Community Energy Strategy, government has a chance to put this right, and make sure that co-operative and community schemes can contribute to a diverse low-carbon energy economy."

The manifesto calls on the Government to introduce a comprehensive and integrated framework of support to help achieve this potential, including:

  • national targets for community energy;

  • promotion of community ownership as the route to increased public acceptance;

  • the introduction of Government-backed advice and support services;

  • and a financial framework including a higher community feed-in tariff and access to finance through the Green Investment Bank.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Socials at The Co-operative, said: “The majority of people in the UK want to see a massive increase in renewable energy, however, there is a powerful minority set against this. Community-owned renewables offer a brilliant way to break this log jam, and this Manifesto sets out what needs to happen in order for this to happen. Our towns, villages and districts are full of hundreds of groups all chomping at the bit to do their bit to generate and save energy locally and fight climate change."

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprise Director at the National Trust, said: “We know that when communities secure a stake in energy projects they are much more reassured that their own beautiful and fragile local landscapes and villages can embrace the proposals. Community energy can help empower local people to take control of their own energy futures and in a style that maintains and even enhances what makes local places special and cherished. We, like the rest of the Community Energy Coalition, are ready to work with the Government to support a big increase in community owned renewable energy and in particular create a step change in energy efficiency schemes.”

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