7 November 2015
Leading Green Party politicians and local members of Eastbourne Green Party visited the site of a proposed community solar project in Berwick, Sussex, on Thursday 5th November as they launched a report that showcases community energy groups across the South East.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, MEP for the South East Keith Taylor, and deputy leader Amelia Womack were given a tour of the site and met supporters from Cuckmere Community Solar Company. The company is applying for planning permission to build a community-owned solar farm designed to promote biodiversity and invest profits into local energy-saving initiatives. The community solar farm will be next door to an already existing commercial solar farm.
The report, Taking Back The Power: Community Energy in the South East, comes just weeks after the government announced cuts to feed-in-tariffs – subsidies for small-scale renewable energy. It features successful community energy projects around the South East and acts as a guide for people interested in setting up similar projects. Mentioned in the report is Eastbourne Community Energy, a local community benefit society which has delivered energy advice work with the aid of a government grant, and which intends to develop community energy projects of its own.
Keith Taylor said:
“This report flies in the face of our government’s betrayal of our renewable energy industry. It clearly shows that across the South East – and indeed the UK – communities have the passion, willingness and know-how to achieve amazing things by taking power into their own hands and creating people-powered, clean energy.
“I am appalled by the government’s seeming determinedness to stop this inspiring work in its tracks. Their latest attack on renewables via cuts to the feed-in-tariff not only threatens the UK’s chances of meeting our EU renewables targets, but it further undermines David Cameron’s credibility in the run-up to the COP 21 climate talks in Paris.
“Every one of the government’s own polls says British people want to see more clean power. I urge the government to listen to the electorate - reverse these damaging cuts and support the potential of clean, people-powered energy.”
Sally Boys, Co-ordinator for Eastbourne Green Party, said:
"My visit to the solar farm at Berwick showed me how clean, green energy from solar power can exist harmoniously with farming and protection of our wonderful countryside. 350 sheep graze happily amongst the solar panels already there. Huge areas of land have been planted with hedges, trees and beautiful wildflowers which are already flourishing, benefiting both people and wildlife.
"A community solar farm will do all this too, plus provide funds for local community projects. Community renewable energy projects we wish to see in Eastbourne, which has huge potential for solar energy in particular, and Eastbourne Green Party will work in any way it can to support community energy, especially as it can contribute greatly to the future economic prosperity of Eastbourne".
Green MP, Caroline Lucas said:
“This report sets out the huge variety of benefits associated with community energy products – and the short-sightedness of government cuts to the sector. These projects create jobs, cut fuel costs and give local people a stake in their energy production.
“They are also playing a vital role in helping the UK to tackle climate change and end our reliance on fossil fuels. It is time our government stops undermining their efforts and gives them the support they need.”
Taking Back The Power: Community Energy in the South East: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Taking-Back-The-Power_Community-Energy-in-the-South-East.compressed.pdf
Eastbourne Community Energy: www.e-ce.co.uk
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