Sample MP email/letter

Sample Tweet

Party manifestos and policies

Show the Love Campaign 2022

 

There are 267 MPs (excluding Scottish MPs) who represent seats with community energy projects in them. That is a huge potential power-base if all of them can recognise the power and potential of our sector to enable the energy transition and bring benefit to their communities.

The Government's Net Zero Strategy, published on Tuesday 19 October, mentioned community energy but contained no concrete plans or support measures for the sector, despite recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee that it should.

We have met with Greg Hands, the energy minister, who understood the critical funding gap which will exist if the Rural Community Energy Fund is not extended and expanded to included urban, heat and retrofit projects. He was not able to commit to this happening. 

We ask you to write to your MP asking them to write to the BEIS Secretary of State to urgently put in place support measures from the BEIS departmental budget. See CEE's recent letter to the Secretary of State for detailed reasoning. (See suggested MP letter below)

Why harnessing our MPs is key.

Already, CE friendly MPs have helped us get questions asked and meet the minister. More than 300 support the Local Electricity Bill. An 'All Party Parliamentary Group on Community Energy' was recently formed. We have built profile and recognition in Westminster.

We argue in our Parliamentary Briefing (bit.ly/CEEbriefing) that community energy is essential to achieving net-zero and as such should be supported financially and in policy. Ministers are increasingly echoing our messaging: Kwasi Kwarteng in June 2020 - "If we’re going to get to Net Zero we're going to need more local engagement" Alok Sharma to the Environmental Audit Committee - "We're going to have to take the public with us". 

The Conservative government has a majority of 80 seats so Conservative MPs are especially important, particularly those in the so-called Blue Wall of northern seats gained from Labour to whom the government listens carefully.

We are working to get community energy and people back at the centre of government energy policy. But for this to have any possibility of making the real change we need lots more community energy champions in parliament, ideally Conservative MPs. We need the photographs of the Secretary of State waving on a community energy rooftop soon. 

We will write to all relevant ministers, committees, pressure groups and opposition spokespeople to get our community energy asks before them. We will work with partner organisations like the Energy Saving Trust, Green Alliance, NEA and the Climate Coalition to join up our campaigning.  

Make your MP a community energy champion

MPs can only really respond to people and projects in their constituencies. So we are asking community energy people and organisations (you!) to connect with and make an ally of your MP, whatever their political complexion and whether you like them or not. Invite them to visit your project and to invest in it, to share-issues and project launches, take and share good pictures (with the aim of getting them featured prominently on their website, Facebook page, into their newsletters), tag them in social media, update them on progress, get them wanting to boast about you in Parliament. Also to do things for you - ask parliamentary questions, write to ministers. Then they will be much more willing to champion the sector or your project when we need them.

Please (and also mobilise supporters to) email, write to or tweet your MP, urging them to visit your project and champion community energy in the House; you can adapt our suggested letter to do this. Please explain why community energy is great - (benefits to your local community) - and, as a trusted intermediary, the key to engaging the wider community to actively participate in the urgent energy transition. Attach the CEE Parliamentary Briefing.

Your MP can be found at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/ (where you can also send them a message). Full contact details, and how MPs prefer to be addressed, is available at  https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons

Please write to local newspapers in the same vein.

Sample MP email/letter.

Please cut, paste, reword and personalise (including with local context and benefits of your project). MPs often forward your email to the Secretary of State's office so the less it looks like a standard campaign email the more powerful it will be.

If you are inviting your MP to a specific event or visit please refer to that near the top. Fridays and weekends are best or during parliamentary recesses.

Please check and edit especially the bold italicised text and fill in between [square brackets]. If emailing please copy in d.law@communityenergyengland.org and send me any non-automatic responses. It may be useful to tweak according to which party you are contacting. Letters by post, especially hand-written, are rarer nowadays and also work well.

_____________________

Dear [MP name],

The BEIS Secretary of State must extend and expand the Rural Community Energy Fund

I/we write as [(a) volunteer(s) with/member of??] [?? name of project] in your constituency. [more details??]

The Secretary of State promised to set out the government’s “future plans for community energy” in the Net Zero Strategy, to “act in lieu of a specific strategy on community energy”, which the Environmental Audit Committee had recommended in April. Whilst community energy is mentioned, the Net Zero Strategy does not “emphasise the importance of community energy” to achieving net zero or propose “practical support measures to harness the potential of community energy” as recommended by the Environmental Audit Committee. 

Ministers point to the success of the £10m Rural Community Energy Fund which has mobilised hundreds of millions of investment in community energy projects but have no plans to extend it beyond March 2022 or expand it to include urban, heat or retrofit projects, areas that urgently need local activity. Instead they point community energy groups towards the 'national growth funds' such as the Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund and the Energy Redress Fund. These funds, being revenue and capital funds, most channelled through local authorities, are often not appropriate to community entrepreneurs trying to harness local opportunities to decarbonise and deliver social and community benefit. They need consistent access to small amounts of 'at risk' funding to develop projects. Without this, huge amounts of local 'potential energy' in people, money and megawatts will go untapped. 

Community energy is essential to involving people and communities in inventing and adopting climate solutions in the net zero transition and to maximise social benefit from it. The Climate Change Committee warns “if the people of the UK are not engaged in this challenge - the UK will not deliver Net Zero by 2050... people need to be brought into the decision-making process and derive a sense of ownership of the Net Zero project.” This is at least as important as technological transformation to which the Strategy commits billions of pounds.

I/We ask you to write to the Secretary of State at BEIS (for his own attention, as he is ultimately responsible for the allocation of departmental budgets) on our behalf urging him to find funding now from departmental budgets to extend and expand the Rural Community Energy Fund to include urban, heat, retrofit and energy efficiency projects.

Community Energy England has written to the Secretary of State here with full justification for this ask including the huge benefits and extra investment that will be mobilised by a comparatively small government investment.

The risk of not mobilising people, communities or social businesses to take local climate action is that 'world-leading' net zero policy is likely to fail to deliver, and the billions invested in technological solutions will have been wasted.

The government has already recognised "the valuable role that community and locally owned renewable energy projects can play in reaching our net zero targets. Community energy groups can act as catalysts for raising awareness and promoting behaviour change, both of which are vital if we are to achieve our 2050 goals." But they can only do this it is economically feasible - and at present community energy struggles to make a business case to do any but exceptional projects.

Community energy must be supported by the government now, to catalyse awareness, behaviour change and the invention of and participation in local energy solutions at scale. With the increased enthusiasm for local climate action after COP26 the sector is set to grow exponentially again, if it is appropriately valued and supported by the government.

I/We ask that you, please: 

  • Write to the Secretary of State at BEIS urging him to find funding now from departmental budgets to extend and expand the Rural Community Energy Fund to include urban, heat, retrofit and energy efficiency projects.
  • Visit our project soon and champion community energy (and our project) in the House of Commons.
  • Read Community Energy England's very short Parliamentary Briefing at bit.ly/CEEbriefing
  • Sign up to support the Local Electricity Bill which would boost community-scale clean energy and mean that local people could be customers of local renewable generators. 

Thank you in advance.

Best regards

[Name, postal address and postcode in the constituency - required for the MP to act on your behalf]

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Sample tweet

Please do tweet from your organisation’s account if possible. You can find MP Twitter handles here. Please ADD A PICTURE (essential - use the one above or below if necessary), personalise with relevant # and @. Please don't delete the dot at the beginning.

.@[MPtwitterhandle] #CommunityEnergy is key to achieving #NetZero.

@KwasiKwartengMP @BEISgovuk must find departmental funds now to extend and expand the Rural Community Energy Fund to include urban, heat, retrofit and energy efficiency projects. @Comm1nrgy