Monday, 29 November 2010

I wish I'd said..........

I was on the gogglebox on Sunday for the Yorkshire and Humber bit of The Politics Show. My brief was well, 'brief'. I was told that I would be talking about transport policy. There was to be Lord Lucas (not Lucan mores the pity) down the line from London who would talk about the fact that Councils are wanting to charge more for parking tickets and about the possibility that in addition to the cuts that Councils could be asked to repay millions in parking fines due to poorly painted yellow lines and incorrect signage. This is just what we need more money taken off councils when we're being asked to make huge swingeing cuts. I was to come in after the Lord when they widened it out to a more general discussion about transport. In reality there was very little time for that and I just made the link between this policy and the lack of revenue Councils had for jobs and services following government cuts. As I wandered home towards the station after the interview I realised the line I wanted to say,

"Don't you realise that Councils have to raise these fines and cut jobs and services for local people. I mean otherwise how are the banks going to be able to afford to pay some of their staff huge bonuses if we were to tax them instead."

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Supermarket Sweep?

Dale Winton of Supermarket Sweep fame.
The Con Dems (Greenest Government Ever?) have made a good decision regarding their developing Green Deal. This Coalition Government programme will be delivering energy efficiency measures to householders commencing in Autumn 2012. According to the DECC Minister Greg Barker Local Authorities will have a strategic role in the delivery of the Green Deal in their areas they will also be able to bid to become Green Deal Providers in their own areas and deliver their programmes on a street by street basis. Previously Barker had repeatedly referred to Supermarkets as the deliverers of choice despite their lack of experience in delivering these programmes and some fairly lacklustre attempts to deliver insulation to householders. There now seems to have been a bit of a change in tack. As always the devil is in the detail and there remains the issue of whether or not the Green Deal will actually be a compelling offer to householders.

We need to understand how 'the Golden Rule' will work, which says that any savings made will greater than the cost for paying back the measures. With so many different house types, with different usage patterns, different heating requirements this is going to be a tall order and if the golden rule isn't convincing for all householders whatever their circumstances then confidence in the Green Deal will be severely shaken. The other good news is that Private Landlords could be fined if they don't improve the energy efficiency of  their dwellings, with Local Councils being able to penalise them up to £5000 for non compliance.

This is all good stuff and credit where its due. I don't however believe that Greg's yet given up on his supermarkets as a major deliverer. Lets hope its not a clean (supermarket) sweep when it comes to who actually does the Green Deal and Local Authorities that demonstrate the capability to deliver also get the opportunity.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Feed In Frenzy?

A solar farm under construction
The Feed In Tariff for renewable electricity is working and working well. So well, that the Con Dems are already contemplating cutting back on it. When the scheme comes up for review in 2012 they are planning on ‘reducing projected costs by £40 million by 2014-15’. You have to wonder why though. Government does not pay for the Feed In Tariff through taxation, we all do through our energy bills so why is government so concerned? They would have been right to be concerned about ensuring that lower income customers benefit from the FIT through solar installations on their properties but fairrness doesn’t seem to be a priority for this government. 

Though 2014-15 sounds a long way off DECC Minister Greg Barker has said that,

“in the event of deployment running ahead of published projections would we bring forward that review. But, to reassure the industry further, we will announce the trigger for such an early review shortly”.

So there we have it if the policy is working too well the FIT will be cut and soon we will know the limit of the government’s ambition for FIT funded renewables.

Another aspect for concern is the Government’s desire to limit large scale ‘solar PV farms’. This statement by Greg Barker in the House of Commons last week sent shivers through the solar industry,

“we inherited a system that simply failed to anticipate industrial-scale, stand-alone, greenfield solar, and, although we will not act retrospectively, large field-based developments should not be allowed to distort the available funding for roof-based PV, other PV and other types of renewables.

This is clearly nonsense. The Conservatives supported the Feed In Tariff in opposition and were fully aware of the 5MW limit on installations. What is described by Greg Barker as ‘greenfield’ developments could equally be large installations on derelict, brownfield land with little agricultural or amenity value. Far from distorting the market for microgeneration these large PV developments could help drive down the costs of renewables for householders by growing the solar industry and creating large economies of scale.

The Government, and particularly the Lib Dems, have made great play of the fact that they will now allow Councils to keep the revenue they make from renewables through the FIT. A prime example is Cornwall Council which is soon to install a 5MW array and this will be a real money spinner for the Council at a difficult time.  One of the greatest opportunities for Councils to make back some of the money taken from jobs and vital services in the cuts could be from large scale PV arrays on land that otherwise would have no value to them or to the communities they serve. It now appears that the Government are effectively removing that solar silver lining from their cloud of cuts.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Newsome South Methodist Church - Sponsor a Solar Panel!

Newsome South Methodist Church are planning to put solar panels on the roof of their church to generate electricity for the building and help save money and the environment at the same time. The panels will be available for everyone to look and will have a display meter in the lobby area showing people how much electricity is being generated at that moment in time and how much has been generated over the life of the panels. There will be an information board below the meter telling people how the panels work and where they can get more information for getting panels for their own home business or community building. Next to the information board we will have a sponsorship board where we will display the names of individuals and companies who have contributed array. The sponsorship board will take the form of a mock up graphical solar panel with sponsors names and details going in each individual cell that makes up a panel.

A £5000 sponsorship target

To put the panels on the church roof will cost around £15,000. We believe we can raise around £10’000 from grants and other fundraising so we are aiming to raise around £5000 from sponsorship. If 100 individuals pledge a minimum of £50 we reach our target. If companies also provide sponsorship this will make the target easier to achieve.

Individual Sponsorship

Individual sponsorship will be £50 each. If a number of people wish to club together to sponsor a cell

(up to a maximum of 5 at £10 each) they are very welcome to do so.

If you want to organise a fundraising event to help riase your £50 please let us know and we'll help you promote it

Company Sponsorship

Company sponsorship will be £100 each. As well as your company name you may put your contact details and a brief sentence explaining what your company does.

What do I do next?

At this stage we are looking for pledges from individuals and companies. So if you are interested in sponsorship please contact Councillor Andrew Cooper with your name and contact details at and whether you are an individual or company sponsor and we will contact you in the New Year when we expect the project to commence. If you have any queries regarding this please get in touch.

Monday, 8 November 2010

2010 - The Year We Made Energy

It's been a landmark day in our household. Our 'Dunsley Yorkshire' Wood Boiler was fitted today. It will provide heating and hot water and is an approved appliance for smoke control areas. The added bonus is that it is made in Holmfirth a couple of miles away. It is connected to our thermal store as is our gas boiler and solar thermal system. It also has a hot plate on the top so we can cook on it if the mood takes us. So though we have a stone built edwardian house it's carbon emissions should be pretty low. Our solar thermal and solar PV systems were installed in March and we signed up to Good Energy for our electricity and gas.

It's taken a while but I think we're becoming 'green'

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Phil Woolas Labour MP (as was) has lost his seat for lying in his election literature. It was pretty unpleasant stuff that Mr Woolas put out about his Lib Dem opponent but there really is heavy irony here. Having been in politics a good number of years I've seen some dodgy leaflets from Labour in Newsome but the dodgiest I have seen from all over the place has to be the Lib Dems. The incredibly spurious graphs they produce indicating how high their support is supposedly is one example. When challenged about these tactics I usually get a sort of half embarrassed smile and the words 'well that's politics' as if that were some excuse for having no standards on the paper you stick through electors doors. There was the nonsense they put out accusing the Green Party of calling for lower insulation standards for Council tenants. Scandalous an undefensible but Lib Dem tactics through and through.

Of course we have the Lib Dems in government who's election priorities bear little relation to those of the coalition e.g. Trident, nuclear power, tuition fees etc etc. Are we going to be able to take the whole Lib Dem Parliamentary Party to court for lying in their literature? No of course we can't because if they actually had won the election they would of course delivered on their promises - yeah right. The problem they have right now is that it is difficult to spot the Liberal morsels in the Coalition amidst the devastation that is being wrought in their name.  Anyway for entertainment value here's Captain Ska with 'Liar Liar'. How come Ska comes into its own when there are Tory Governments (sorry Tory/Lib Dem Govts)?