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Community Energy Generation

Volume 592: debated on Thursday 5 February 2015

This Government are proud of launching the UK’s first community energy strategy, which is increasing the proportion of home-grown, low-carbon generation across the country. We have committed £25 million to rural and urban community energy funds to help kick-start generation projects, and communities can access the feed-in tariff scheme, which provides a long-term guaranteed income stream for communities.

Bristol, as European green capital this year, is certainly very keen to push forward on community energy, but I am told that progress has stalled as a result of Treasury changes to tax incentives and Financial Conduct Authority changes to the rules for establishing energy co-ops. Community Energy England and Co-operatives UK say these changes threaten the very viability of the community co-operative model. What is the Minister doing to respond to these concerns?

I congratulate the hon. Lady on Bristol’s nomination for European green capital, and it was a pleasure to visit the city with her and see some evidence of the green initiatives. I am aware of the problem she raises and I will follow that carefully and try to ensure it does not create any further blockage, because community energy is essential to our development of a proper renewables strategy in the UK.

Will the Minister look carefully at the application of community feed-in tariffs to small-scale hydro? I recently wrote to the Secretary of State on behalf of villagers in West Lydford, who have made a heroic effort to repair a weir in Lydford. They formed a company to do so, and now find themselves in difficulties because of the rules.

I am aware of that issue and we will cover it in the community energy strategy update. I will ensure that the hon. Gentleman is kept informed of that so that it addresses the particular problem he has raised.