Monday, 20 June 2011

Sun sets on public funding for solar on community buildings

I had cause to read 'The Feed In Tariffs (Specified Maximum Capacity and Functions) (Amendment) Order 2011 document. I should get a good book you might say, but my reason for reading this was because I'd been informed that it would prevent small community organisations installing solar PV panels benefitting from the Feed In Tariff if they had received public money. This was particularly important in Kirklees due to the Community Buildings Energy Grants which had appeared due to a Lib Dem amendment to the council budget last year (for details see this blogpost from Feb 2010). Ironically the Con/Lib Dem Government now threatened to pull the rug from under the scheme taking all the lasting benefits and making the 'Big Society' somewhat more difficult to acheive. Schemes like the solar panels for Newsome South Methodist Church were under threat.

I spent a good hour or so reading, and re-reading the document to make sure I was right but could see that according to the 'Amendment to article 8' on page 4, that if grants were paid to community organisations before the end of June and the solar panels fitted before October then the Feed In Tariff would remain intact for those churches, sports clubs and community groups seeking funds from the Community Buildings Energy Grant. I made the relevant officers and the Leader of the Council aware and soon the Chief Exec was geting involved finding ways to fast track the grants. Hopefully many schemes which were under threat will now proceed but this is a one off loophole which will soon close. With further reviews of  feed in tariffs on the cards confidence among the renewables industry is not exactly at an all time high.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

'Huddersfield Conservative' attacks the Green Party

Syringa . The flower which gives it's name to the street where I used live with 'Huddersfield Conservative'  Bernard McGuin
Here's a string of letters from Bernard McGuin (Huddersfield Conservative) and responses from me in The Examiner. Funnily enough I used to live next door but one to him about twenty odd years ago in Syringa Street, Marsh. Since then he's found politics and  stood for the Conservatives in Newsome in 2010 and was their campaign organiser in 2011. The usual target for Mr McGuin was the Labour Councillors for where he lives in Marsh and Mehboob Khan in particular. More recently he's taken a dislike to the Green Party and he tends to write fairly ill informed letters in the Huddersfield Examiner which tend to demonstrate his prejudices rather than any real knowledge about the issues he raises. It's a pity really that he does this but  it does give me an opportunity to put the record straight. Here for your entertainment is the latest string of letters.

Cost of ‘green’ policies

THE true cost of renewable means of producing power are now being exposed.

As I have said in the past, the power companies pay four times the value of any electricity produced by wind and solar means. The cost is passed on to the consumer in hidden subsidies. It is effectively an extra tax on already heavily burdened ordinary hard working individuals.

The fact that energy prices themselves are screaming ahead of inflation means that effectively we are putting a brake on economic growth and ultimately economic recovery.#

To all those people who voted Green in the last local elections, the message should be, do you really support policies that harm the British economy?

To the coalition government I would ask – do we really have to follow every edict from Europe on cutting carbon emissions and do you think all our competitors put so-called climate change policies ahead of economic growth?

Bernard McGuin

Huddersfield Conservative

Blaming the wrong folk

A RATHER bizarre letter from Conservative Bernard McGuin blames the Green Party for taxes on energy bills.Last time I checked it was the Conservatives who were running the country with their Lib Dem helpers, not the Green Party.

He says these taxes support renewable energy. Yes they do – but nuclear energy is very heavily subsidised too.

It is also worth noting that half of the £20m budget for Kirklees Warm Zones free insulation scheme came from these sources, which is saving energy and money for Kirklees householders to the tune of about £4m each year.Mr McGuin would be quite correct in blaming the Green Party for the free insulation scheme which was the result of an amendment we made to the Kirklees Budget in 2007.

Clr Andrew Cooper

Leader, Green Party, Kirklees Council

Energy subsidies

IN REPLY to the Clr Andrew Cooper, (Mailbag, June 17) who thinks I wrote a bizarre letter regarding renewable forms of energy, may I just remind him that on his website that he acknowledged that the Feed In Tariffs, that rewards producers of such energy with a 41p per unit payment as opposed to the market price of 11p per unit, is a form of indirect taxation?

I was careful in my letter to say that it was a subsidy which was being paid by us in our electricity bills.
On average we are each paying £200 plus a year to pay for this and other forms of  ‘green taxes’ in our annual expenditure on energy.

The coalition has been saddled with the last government’s zeal to expand wind and solar power.
Those that can afford the cost of solar panelling, the comparatively rich, will make a good return on their investment, around 10-12%. Paid by us poor folk who can’t afford it.

If you want to rent out your roof for solar panels, beware! You must have room for 16 panels and those in terraced housing, most of us in Huddersfield, won’t qualify.

Although insulating one’s house is a good thing, the cost is again taken by the taxpayer.The warming Kirklees scheme was undertaken by a Conservative administration. I have heard all four political groups take credit for this scheme. Of course it is possible the three green councillors outvoted the other 66.

The main thrust of my letter was to ask whether the ‘taxing’ of energy would put a brake on economic growth. It is only that which will get us out of the debt that the country faces. In the General Election 2010, there was a move towards a rejection of tax and spend policies. Do the people who voted for Green councillors in Newsome and Kirkburton want a return to that?

Bernard McGuin

Huddersfield Conservative

Response to Bernard McGuin

Conservative Bernard McGuin states the impact on energy bills of policies to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions (or ‘green taxes’ as he puts it) is £200. The figure he gives is one from a right wing newspaper parroting a dubious report from a right wing policy group. The actual figure given by the Department of Energy Climate Change on behalf of the right wing Conservative Government is £42 per year. I can direct Mr McGuin to the appropriate part of his government’s website if he wants.

He says the coalition has been ‘saddled with the last government’s zeal to expand wind and solar power’. Actually there was consensus among the Westminister parties about the need for a feed in tariff for renewable energy before the General Election. If he can show me anything at all which contradicts my view I’d be interested to see it.

Mr McGuin also attempts to take credit away from the Greens for gaining free insulation for households in Kirklees through the Warm Zone scheme. The Green Party amendment to the 2007 Council budget which made the scheme free is a matter of public record. The emails I have between myself and the then Conservative leader and the official notes of discussions of meetings on the budget further confirm free insulation as a Green Party initiative. I’m more than happy to show Mr McGuin the evidence.

He asks whether the  taxing of energy would ‘put a brake on economic growth’. As much of the money goes towards schemes that help reduce peoples fuel bills and projects which create employment and economic activity that is highly unlikely.

It is easy for Mr McGuin to  write letters to the paper repeating misinformation he may have read in the national tabloids but he would do better to direct his concerns regarding fuel prices to the government which is lead by the Conservative Party, which for reasons best known to himself, he supports.

Councillor Andrew Cooper

Leader of the Green Party group

Saturday, 18 June 2011

More Solar for Newsome

Ing Lane -  solar panels coming soon!
 Council bungalows on Ing Lane and Hart Street are to get solar panels in August. This is adjacent to Castle Grange Residential Home also to Hillside School so we'll soon have a new concentration of microgeneration technologies in Newsome as well as Primrose Hill Solar Village and Croftlands.

Kirklees Council plan to install 1000 by March 2012. Possible if they can get past Kirklees legal services and procurement people who seem to have slowed the process down to a snails pace.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

New traffic calming scheme in Berry Brow

Junction of Park Lane and Hangingstone Rd, Berry Brow
OK after a run of Beer Festival stories back onto other local issues. After years of campaigning by Councillors and local people it looks like we will finally have some traffic calming coming on Hangingstone Road, Robin Hood Hill and the bottom of Park Lane at Berry Brow. It will be ramps going in rather than humps or chicanes. The work is due to commence in August following the replacement of a gas main which will close the road for a week or so. There's been good consultation with local people with well attended meetings at the Golden Fleece to discuss options.

The road is frequently used as a rat run for traffic seeking to save a few yards in Woodhead Rd when there's traffic queueing and it makes the road, which is quite narrow in parts hazardous. It's great because we've finally got this sorted after many years of knocking this issue backwards and forwards with Kirklees Highways.

Hall Bower Beer Festival - 23rd/24th July

At Newsome Ward Community Forum on Thursday night I was told of another Beer Festival  occuring over the Summer in the Newsome Ward at Hall Bower Athletic Club and this time I'll be able to make it. It's on the weekend of 23rd and 24th July and like The Monkey Club, Hall Bower Athletic Club is community owned and managed so well worth supporting. The bar staff are all volunteers on a rota and the club is open every night from 8.30pm onwards. The great thing, of course, is the setting in Hall Bower village surrounded by fields with Castle Hill in the background and its a nice walk from my home in Brockholes.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


The Armitage Bridge MonkeyFest is due again on the 2nd/3rd July and I'm going to miss it! Little did I know when I put myself forward to be the Chair of the Association of Green Councillors last year that the next Conference would clash with one of the best weekend events of the year. The Monkey Club in Armitage Bridge is a great community owned and managed club officially known as the Armitage Bridge Working Mens Club. It is much loved by it's members (of which I am one) and each year holds a beer festival with a barbecue and music.

Could there be anything better than sitting beside the stream on Dean Brook Road, Armitage Bridge drinking fine ales listening to music and tucking into a burger? The Green Party is sponsoring one of the barrels of ale this year as part of our contribution to the event. So if you don't have to be anywhere else make a date with MonkeyFest next month - you lucky folks!

Zombie Posterboards!

The Zombie Posterboard
 Its time is over. Long past its sell by date it still haunts our streets - the zombie posterboard! All around, the lamp posts are bare now, but it clings onto existence, you could hardly call it a life. What is its purpose? To mock the one that bears its name? To remind us that in life it failed in its task? Now it is forgotten by those who put it up. They have long gone back to whatever accursed place they came -  Birkby I think.

 It was doomed from the start. Put on a telegraph pole against the very fundamental laws by which posterboards are supposed to abide. Is there be any doubt that having transgressed in such a way that it would be doomed to hang over us for all eternity?

The Zombie Posterboard can be found at the junction of Stile Common Road and Malvern Rise, Primrose Hill