Renewed calls for Shropshire Council to support law change in favour of community energy schemes

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 1:48pm

By Keri Trigg - Local Democracy Reporter

An energy campaigner has renewed calls for Shropshire Council to sign up in support of a law change that will benefit local renewable energy schemes.

Nick Saxby had asked the council, through its public questions procedure, to join more than 40 other county and borough councils in backing the Local Electricity Bill, which passed its first reading in parliament last week.

His question was answered at this week’s cabinet meeting by Councillor Dean Carroll, portfolio holder for climate change, who said the success of the bill would bring positive changes to the benefit of local suppliers of renewable energy – but stopped short of officially pledging the council’s support.

Councillor Carroll said: “The success of the bill is desirable not only for climate change but also for ourselves as local authorities, if we are to be able to deliver on a number of climate related objectives such as the ability to improve resilience of the local energy supply and to improve the carbon performance of our communities.

“For a local renewable energy project to supply their local community seems so obvious that it comes as a shock to many to find that they simply can’t.

“The business of the government feed-in tariffs has made community energy schemes far more marginal and this will only be addressed by increasing what they can charge for their energy – unless an alternative form of subsidy is introduced.

“Current energy market conditions and policy changes made by Ofgem currently disadvantage smaller community-scale renewables and storage suppliers.”

The bill aims to change regulations in the energy market to allow for small-scale renewable energy projects to sell electricity directly to local consumers.

Mr Saxby, who is based in Whitchurch and is involved in a renewable energy development in Shropshire, said the bill would be a “great enabler of greener energy generation” in the region.

Following the meeting, Mr Saxby said: “What struck me is that the council did not make an explicit commitment to support the bill, however, I was pleased to hear that the council does think of the bill’s success as desirable.

“It’s unfortunate that the council even needed me to bring up the issue in the first place.

“I would have liked to see leadership from the local authority on the critical topics of climate change and energy security.

“The council is clearly informed now of the circumstances in the renewable energy market, and they understand that legislation is needed to make improvements.

“Given that there is such great potential in Shropshire and the region for growth in green energy, I would have liked a commitment to more decisive action.

“I’m hoping that the council will follow through and formally pledge its support for the bill now.”

According to the official campaign ‘Power for People’; so far, over 40 county councils and over 200 town and parish councils have given their support to the cross-party bill.

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