Members' newsletter 29th April 2016

This week we were again presented with evidence that the vast majority of the public are in favour of renewables, thanks to DECC's Public Attitudes Tracker. Nearly eight in ten of the people interviewed also agreed that renewable energy developments should provide direct benefits to the communities where they are located. Now we just need to broaden that support to the powers that be. Meanwhile, the National Audit Office have found that the Green Deal design not only failed to deliver any meaningful benefit, it increased suppliers’ costs – and therefore energy bills – in meeting their obligations through the ECO scheme.
I also wanted to use this opportunity to introduce you to the new team here at CEE. Charlotte Heywood has joined as our Administrative Officer and Jon Hall as our Membership & Communications Officer. We also have a new office. Our new address for correspondence (or to visit) is: The Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX.

Emma Bridge

Chief Executive

Community Energy England

Judicial Review Update – Resilient Energy
As you may recall from earlier newsletters, Resilient Energy’s 500kW Severndale wind turbine is the subject of a judicial review in the High Court, where a single individual is challenging the decision by the Forest of Dean District Council to grant it planning condition last September. The claimant queries whether the Council were lawful in giving positive weight in their decision making to the community approach and associated community benefits, and whether a community benefit society is an appropriate legal structure.

The High Court hearing was held on 21 April in London.  Whatever the outcome, this case also has wider significance because it is expected to provide legal clarity regarding the approach to and treatment of community benefits in future planning applications across all technologies, not just wind. As well as Andrew and Sue Clarke, and many local supporters, Kathy Smyth attended on behalf of CEE. There were also representatives from the Centre for Sustainable Energy and 10:10 there to listen to the legal arguments.  It was generally agreed by all who attended from the community side that it was an extremely good thing that Resilient Energy had raised the money to retain their own barrister (Martin Kingston QC) to put the case for the community.  He was excellent and may well have saved the day  - so thank you to all the individuals and organisations who contributed to the fighting fund to make this possible.  A special mention should also go to Burges Salmon (solicitors) who recognised the importance of the case and provided their services to Resilient Energy pro bono.  We expect it to take a few weeks for the Judge to issue his written decision.
Update on Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR)
CEE has been attempting for some time to obtain an explanation for the Treasury’s decision not to include community energy in SITR tax relief when the scheme is eventually modified following State Aid approval from the European Commission.  Our opinion is that SITR is a rather different tax relief from EIS and SEIS and the argument that the Treasury used to justify the removal of EIS/SEIS which related to the relatively low level of risk attached to community energy projects did not apply to SITR.  However according to a response a member of Schools Energy Co-operative has received via his MP Bill Wiggin from David Gauke MP, the element of risk also needs to be present to qualify for SITR.  As far as we are aware, this is the first time this has been spelled out in relation to SITR.  You can read the letter here.  We certainly don’t accept that our members’ schemes are motivated by “low- risk tax planning purposes”.  However we have only been in receipt of this letter for a week or so and are therefore still reviewing it and considering our next steps. 

Community Heat Updates

Community Heat Toolkit launched
Following on from DECC’s Community Heat conference in March last year, Regen SW have produced two guides, funded by DECC:  For those who were unable to attend the conference, an event report was produced and is available here

£320m Heat Network Infrastructure Project (HNIP)
Last November, as part of the Spending Review, the Government announced that £320m of capital funding had been allocated for the construction of heating and/or cooling systems in England and Wales over this Parliament. DECC has initiated a new project, the Heat Networks Investment Project (HNIP) to design this investment support.  By providing a contribution to capital costs, this support hopes to bring forward £2bn of private and local match investment. DECC will shortly be undertaking a consultation to get detailed input to the scope and shape of the investment support funding.

Renewable Heat Incentive consultation
DECC’s consultation closed on 27th April. CEE submitted a response which can be seen here.


Welcome to our newest member Douche Biomass - a leading installer of biomass heating systems in the South East.  

Member news

Mongoose to launch community-owned energy supply business
The community energy company Mongoose has announced it will launch an energy supply business, opening to customers before the end of the year. The launch will see Mongoose become the UK’s first supply company that is majority owned by community energy groups. More details here.

Sunshine Tariff Trial to Help Wadenbridge Homes Save
Western Power Distribution, WREN, Tempus Energy and Regen SW are leading a groundbreaking trial to see how much money customers can save by shifting their electricity usage into the cheap daytime period. See here for more information. 

Solarcentury has become the first company in the UK to install 500MW solar
Solar Media's Intelligence team have revealed that Solarcentury is the first and currently the only UK company to install more than 500MW of solar PV capacity. For further information, please see Finlay Colville's blog on Solar Power Portal.

Bristol Energy Cooperative has raised £9 million since November 
Bristol Energy Cooperative have signed an agreement this week, adding £3.95 million of funding for community energy projects. This means £9 million has now been raised since November. Please see here for further details.

Bristol Community Energy Fund has awarded it's first round of grants
Twelve not for profit groups around Bristol have been offered over £53,000 to be used on a range of local energy projects. For further information on how the groups were chosen please see here


Member Events
Regen SW Entrepreneurial Women in Renewables event, 11th May, Burges Salmon, Bristol

Mongoose Energy Launch their Community Energy Supply Business, 9th May, 2pm - 4pm, Tony Benn House, Victoria Street, Bristol. Please contact Adam Walton for information or phone 07980 817656. 

Other News

Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Public Attitudes Tracker
DECC have released statistics suggesting that there is strong support from the public for solar, at around 75-80%. Over 2,000 members of the public were questioned in late March over issues relating to the wider energy market. For full details of the Public Attitudes Tracking survey, please see here

National Audit Office draws conclusions on Green Deal
The National Audit Office has concluded that the Department of Energy and Climate Change's Green scheme deal has not achieved value for money, despite achieving its target of improving one million homes. Please see here for the full report and summary of the findings from NAO.

Government Decision to Scrap Zero-Carbon Homes Rejected by Lords
The Government plan to scale down green policies was rejected in the House of Lords on 26th April, as peers recommended that the UK hold to the commitment made at COP21 in Paris. Please see here for further details. 

Ofgem Guidance on Schools
Ofgem have released updated guidance on the FIT for community energy and school installations. Please see here for further details. 

Global investment in renewables smashes records
The 10th edition of UN Environment Programme's (UNEP's) annual ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment’ report reveals that 134GW of renewable power was added worldwide last year, compared to 106GW in 2014 and 87GW in 2013. For further details, please see here.

Arguments on Solar Power Impact on Public Opinion in US and Germany
Arguments and ideas around solar power should tailor to their target audience, even if it means less discussion around the environmental impacts, explains Alexander Franke in his recent essay. For further information please see here

New Community Energy Promise from SNP
Nicola Sturgeon has outlined the Scottish National Party plans to boost community schemes. The manifesto, released this week, promises targets of 1GW of community and locally-owned energy by 2020 and a further 1GW by 2030. For further information, please see here

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