The body representing over 300 citizen-controlled green electricity co-ops in England has endorsed the Labour Party’s £1 Billion manifesto pledge to put rocket boosters under local energy.

Community Energy England today says in a statement that it believes the party’s plans published yesterday “have the potential to transform Britain’s energy system through local action on climate which benefits local people”.

Labour’s promises unveiled yesterday back the party’s earlier pledges towards local energy. They include making targeted energy grants to local authorities from a £600 million pot, and low interest loans made direct to community groups from a pool of £400 million.

The party’s manifesto for 4 July declares “Local power generation is an essential part of the energy mix and reduces pressures on the transmission grid. Labour will deploy more distributed production capacity through our Local Power Plan. Great British Energy will partner with energy companies, local authorities, and co-operatives to install thousands of clean power projects, through a combination of onshore wind, solar, and hydropower projects.

“We will invite communities to come forward with projects, and work with local leaders and devolved governments to ensure local people benefit directly from this energy production.”

In its statement Community Energy England endorses probable energy secretary Ed Miliband’s view that such backing can “kick-start thousands of transformational local energy project”.

“Labour’s Local Power Plan offers grants for local authorities and low interest loans for community energy organisations to do new local, community-led and owned clean energy projects“, the CEE’s statement says.

“Over five years, this could deliver 8 gigawatts of solar and onshore wind – the equivalent of 2.5 nuclear power stations – enough to power 4.35 million homes”.

CEE chief executive Emma Bridge went on, We welcome the Labour manifesto’s plan to grow our fantastic community energy sector and unlock huge benefits for local people.

“Community energy projects deliver 12 to 13 times the benefit of commercial energy installations. So they are uniquely suited to engage local people to participate in the energy transformation. Labour’s Local Power Plan is a win, win, win for communities, local economies and the country,” said Bridge

In 2021, the Environmental Audit Committee advised the government that “due to the urgency of the climate crisis and the vital roles communities will have to play in reaching net zero, it is essential… to support the long-term growth of community energy across the UK.” Chris Skidmore MP in his Review of the Government’s Net Zero Policies recommended that the government “turbocharge community energy.”

“The Labour manifesto and their Local Power Plan demonstrate that the party understands that empowering people and communities to take local climate action, which will also benefit local people, is essential to achieving net zero.

“We are pleased to see real backing for community energy in the Liberal Democrat and Green manifestos too”, noted Bridge.

“All parties with plans to meet the scale of the climate challenge share the consensus that community energy is crucial for any serious climate policy programme.

“We are disappointed that the Conservative manifesto, despite stretching to 80 pages, does not mention community energy at all. The Conservatives’ manifesto doubles down on commitments to invest more in fossil fuels, including new gas power stations, while continuing to block renewable energy developments”.

Bridge says restrictions on new onshore wind turbines have effectively stopped new ones being built in England, with just a handful of new turbines being built per year.  The Conservatives’ programme as set out in its manifesto would slow down progress towards net zero and cement our dependence on fossil fuels for years to come”.

Personal voting intentions differ among CEE officials, as influenced by the parties’ varying stances in relation to the burgeoning co-operative sector.

This week CEE policy manager Duncan Law shared with a public meeting of south London co-op SE24 Community Energy his intention to vote Green, due to their support for local, accountable actions in response to the climate emergency.

Former Conservative energy minister Chris Skidmore last week told a London solar conference that he was ‘politically homeless’, after he resigned his Bristol seat last year in disappointment at the Sunak’s administration’s foot-dragging over green issues.   The West County former MP told delegates that the future of energy is local, citing the achievements of co-ops such as Bath and West Community Energy.

Outside the activities of its volunteer-run co-operatives, today’s CEE statement welcomes Labour’s pledge to double onshore wind capacity by 2030. It notes that new onshore turbines in England have been held back since David Cameron’s Conservatives introduced a de facto ban nine years ago.

Interest declared:  The present author has for several years invested in and volunteered for several community energy co-ops across London and the South East.


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