Westminster-based thinktank ResPublica has published a report claiming that local councils are the greatest barrier to the growth of community energy.
The report, The Community Renewables Economy: Starting up, scaling up and spinning out, [http://www.respublica.org.uk/], claims that local councils are “seriously blocking progress” and that instead of hindering growth, they should be helping it.
The ResPublica study cites a survey carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which found that nearly 80% of the British public support community energy. It also highlights benefits for local councils, including creating tax revenues and bringing down energy bills.
ResPublica argues that councils and government must work together to gain a greater understanding of the financial benefits of community energy, and argues that joint ownership of energy production is only achievable with a flexible and positive approach.
Energy secretary Greg Barker said, “The coalition is committed to helping hard pressed consumers with the rising cost of living.
“When it comes to energy bills, this includes supporting communities to take more control over local generation projects, while also empowering them to reduce their energy demand, tackle local fuel poverty, and get the best deal on their energy supply.”
Barker added, “I warmly welcome the ideas in this report on helping communities navigate the planning system, and on forming productive partnerships so that they are better able to take an active role in their own local projects. Our aim is to help communities and local businesses seize this exciting opportunity.”
A study by another thinktank, the Green Alliance, recently urged the government to devise a clear vision for community energy in the UK.