Here at Community Energy England we’ve been following the General Election campaign trail, and reviewing the manifestos of all the major political parties. Whilst this election is clearly focused on Brexit, there’s still other issues that are grabbing the headlines, and for the first time, quite rightly, we’ve had a debate on the Climate Crisis and the approaches and commitments from the main parties to help tackle it.
As a non-partisan organisation, we work cross-party, and in collaboration with colleagues from across the sector, to champion the benefits of community energy. We have summarised the key content in each of the main parties manifestos in relation to Community Energy and created a section on the website so you can quickly access the information.
We’ve also provided some suggested wording for letters and social media posts if you’re keen to engage the local candidates in your constituency and challenge them on how they will support community energy.
What’s clear from reading the documents is that there is a lack of ambition from all major parties. The Labour manifesto does make a direct reference to community energy and has a particular focus on electric vehicles, charging points and car clubs. It also references the ‘30 by 2030’ report that the party released ahead of the General Election announcement. This is a more detailed document and calls for a reinstatement of the Feed In Tariff. The release of this document saw a focus on the nationalisation of energy. At Community Energy England we welcome the attention and acknowledgement for community energy, but firmly believe that one of the key benefits of the projects our members develop is the engagement and involvement of local people, who have a stake in their own local energy systems. The social impact of community energy projects is key to bringing people and places along on the journey of low carbon transition.
The Conservative manifesto does not include any references to community energy, or to solar power. There is a commitment to ‘help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals'. The absence of community energy from the manifesto contrasts markedly with statements from previous Conservative government ministers. Consequently, the attitude or approach of a future Conservative government to community energy cannot be determined from their manifesto.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto explicitly references community energy, as part of their aim to decarbonise the power sector completely. They say they will ‘support renewables and household and community energy to create jobs and cut fossil fuel imports; our interim goal is to reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.’ They also commit to investing over £6 billion a year on home insulation and zero-carbon heating by the fifth year of the Parliament. And promise to ‘empower councils to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street.’
Whatever happens on December 12th and the days following, the start of 2020 is going to be a crucial time for community energy. With purdah over we’ll be looking to see what news comes out of HM Treasury, with regard to our call for the reinstatement of Social Investment Tax Relief for community energy projects.
We will be seeking to engage with new ministers and departmental teams; sharing with them the benefits community energy brings to both local areas and people but also in the greater objective of supporting their manifesto promises to work to tackle the climate crisis.
Many of you will also be introducing (or re-introducing) your community energy organisation to new, or returning, MPs. We can help you with that outreach, advise on approaches and help you tailor asks you are making. Do use us as a resource to support your work. In the days after the General Election, as the political situation becomes clearer, we’ll share our thoughts and next steps. In the meantime, have a read of what all the parties have to say here.
Community Energy England Policy Manager