In April 2019, CEE appointed its newest member of staff, Policy and Advocacy Manager Duncan Law. Below Duncan writes about his outlook for the Community Energy sector and how he will be engaging with government into the future.
I am delighted to be working for Community Energy England. As a founder of Transition Town Brixton I co-founded Brixton Energy and Repowering London in 2011 and am now working alongside old (and new) colleagues in their office. I feel as if I’ve come home. I am passionate about community-led solutions to the problems of our age.
I grew up during the 70s when we learnt so much about the future. Thatcher and North Sea Oil caused us to go to sleep for a generation. But, despite choosing a career as an actor and director, for me the imminence and importance of peak energy and climate change never went away. At Climate Camp in 2006 I vowed that climate change had to be my front-line activity. Transition Town Brixton and Brixton Energy resulted.
We installed Brixton Energy Solar 1 and 2 in the face of the first big cuts of the Feed-in Tariff, bloody-mindedly determined to make it happen anyway. Brixton Energy worked with DECC to come up with the 2014 Community Energy Strategy with its inspiring vision of 1 million homes powered by community energy. At the launch of Brixton Energy Solar 3 Ed Davey, the DECC Secretary of State was pictured smiling and waving on the roof.
Over the last 4 years government has benightedly closed down opportunities for community energy to grow. But just recently Greta Thunberg and XR have caused a huge rise in consciousness of climate change in society and in government which has recently declared a Climate Emergency. So there is much to play for.
Community energy has so much to offer: determined and committed citizens, creative solutions, powerful networks. And so much potential benefit to bring: local, low-carbon renewable energy, fuel poverty solutions, connection, innovation. I am looking forward to doing all I can to make what you all do more possible, more rewarding, more impactful by representing its potential to make a major, not marginal, contribution to achieving the unprecedented, 'rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems.’ (IPPC) that are urgently necessary now.
I will be working through the ‘proper channels’ in the ‘corridors of power’. As a permaculture person, I believe in working ‘with the grain’. So I would really like to know about your projects engagements with your local MPs to enable us better to harness them (working with you) to drive our case with government. We have a short form for you to tell us briefly about your MP. Please fill in one for each local MP. We will be aiming to get some concrete action as outlined in the recommendations of the recent Community Energy Manifesto produced by Green Alliance with the help of Community Energy England.
We’d love projects to respond (no matter how tersely) to consultations including the current Treasury call for evidence on Social Impact Tax Relief (deadline 17 July). SITR is currently not available to community energy projects. Since they’ve taken everything else they could at least give us that.
I think we have a window of opportunity to get some good planning around the Climate Emergency declarations by government and local authorities. If your council has ‘declared’ please get involved to get community energy built into a holistic plan. (We aim to support this with briefings soon.) If they haven’t, please urge them to declare and start planning.’
I want to hear from you how you think what policy and advocacy work CEE should be doing that would benefit your project. How could the Influence tab on the website be more useful and effective? So don’t hesitate to get in contact at email@example.com
Read the Green Alliance’s Community Energy Manifesto and