20 Jan 2011

Greens push for renewables: are others starting to wake up?

I see my tax letter was in SNJ yesterday but I wanted to cover Green Party County Councillor for Stroud East, Sarah Lunnon, meeting with Neil Carmicheal MP at the end of November (see here). Sarah met to discuss energy security and this week Green councillors met on Monday and we had time to look at this issue again in more detail. Well here is a brief bit re the meeting and a mention of Stroud and County plans.

Pic: Russ produced image

Many of us have been delighted by Mr Carmichael’s reported installation of wind turbines on his own property in Northumberland - it is great that he feels able as a landowner to diversify and support what for the Conservative Party and especially SDC’s Planning Committee is an unloved technology. However he has been reluctant to respond to Green party questions - indeed has still not answered questions raised in the summer - see here details.

Cllr Lunnon was also interested in the MP’s contribution to the Energy Efficiency debate in the House of Commons on the 30th June but surprised that he chose to concentrate on micro-hydro and nuclear power and made no reference to wind and the huge wind resource available within Stroud’s constituency.

Well we know now that apparently it is because of the Northumberland plans - Mr Carmichael has been advised not to comment re wind. Is this right? Well we'll see.

GCC investment in future

Meanwhile The Citizen reported a while back that at last GCC is listening to the Green party - we have for so long been pushing for investment in renewables in the County. Will GCC now be making a move?

A task force has been set up by the authority to devise ways to deal with climate change - "solar farms" and self-sustaining buildings to minimise the council's environmental impact and save £5 million a year. There is talk of a £25m investment from the capital account but I have not seen plans and many of these figures seem to change at the moment......

The County Council needs to save £108 m over the next 4 years according to Mr Hawthorne - GCC also produces more than 60,000 tonnes of carbon every year and pays an annual energy bill of more than £8 million. If money were no object, it estimates the council could rake in £420 million through savings and selling energy back to the national grid. However, it would have to invest £180 million up front. This is at least a start.

Liz Hillary, Press Officer, Stroud District Green Party commented at the time: "The Green Party welcomes this move by the County Council to produce energy from renewable sources. It shows a recognition of the seriousness of climate change and the threats to energy security. It is particularly encouraging to see the Council consider anaerobic digestion to generate electricity which is certainly preferable to a waste incinerator where it is much more difficult to use the power generated. There is obviously the potential to borrow money to generate income from feed in tariffs and the Greens would like to see this strategy used more rather than the drastic cuts that have been forced on Councils from central government."

Stroud District Council

As noted before SDC has also done some work - see the paper under item 5 here. Greens have been pushing for these measures for a long while - see here the inquiry I chaired re climate change last year. The report passed at Cabinet recently is great but doesn't commit to much of a spend - it is another step - and to be fair we still need to know further info about the government's intentions re funding, tariffs, borrowing etc. Stroud leads on all this in Gloucestershire (with the exception of recycling which is very poor - infact Stroud now in bottom 25 councils but more of that in another blog) - however none of this is going anything like far enough - we need to up the ante, move more quickly etc....

There are opportunities now like feed-in tariffs for solar PV that could disappear - we should be piloting large schemes now - let's borrow to invest. If we wait too long we could miss these opportunities....we do not have the option of buying another planet.

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