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UK Government condemned for delaying taking action on community energy

08 May 2024 3 minute read
Photo Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Community Energy Wales has condemned the UK Government’s inaction in response to the ongoing call for evidence on local energy barriers.

The DESNZ call for evidence is asking communities to outline which barriers they face, preventing community energy from scaling up.

Community Energy Wales’s Co-Executive Directors have said that this is just the latest in a long line of consultations designed to delay taking action on community energy.

“Closing their eyes”

Ben Ferguson and Leanne Wood, Co-executive Directors at Community Energy Wales, said:“The UK Government are closing their eyes to the documented value of community owned local energy, asking groups to provide more information about what is standing in the way of the sector’s growth when community energy groups have been reporting on and explaining the barriers for years.

“This is the latest in a long run of consultations asking for detailed solutions to problems that they and their departments are responsible for, and have vast resources to be able to tackle”.

Barriers “already addressed”

The two added that the barriers referred to in the consultation have already been addressed: “The barriers are well known within the community energy sphere and are comprehensively outlined in Community Energy Wales’ State of the Sector Report, the latest of which is available to read here.

Leanne Wood, picture by David Ho. Ben Ferguson, picture by Delyth Higgins.

Leanne and Ben continued: “The main barrier that the UK Government needs to address is its own failure to act.

There has been a distinct lack of commitment to enabling a fair playing field for the community sector.

“The potential of local community energy to cut bills, support grid balancing and improve energy security – as well as provide other benefits for communities across Wales – is immense.

“Reaching this potential would mean a great deal to so many people in so many of our communities, and so we see Westminster’s failure to act to date as being fundamentally undemocratic.”

“Stop dithering”

The Community Energy Wales leaders’ comments follow recent calls from Community Energy Wales for the Westminster Government to stop dithering on local trade, arguing that doing so has frustrated grassroots efforts to tackle fuel poverty, reduce energy use and grow an energy asset base.

The organisation has, however, welcomed the development of Ynni Cymru, a project funded by Welsh Government through the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru, that tackles this specific issue of local trade.

Ben Ferguson and Leanne Wood said: “In contrast to the UK Government, Welsh Government has shown a serious commitment to understanding the need for local energy markets and building them. We’re looking forward to working with Ynni Cymru, and believe it’s a real opportunity to apply the knowledge gained from this innovative project to communities in Scotland, Northen Ireland and England”

Find out more about Community Energy Wales here.

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