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Community Energy Schemes

Volume 741: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2023

The Government have created a new £10 million community energy fund to support community energy projects in England. We are working with the sector on content and a timetable for a consultation on barriers for community energy projects.

Does the Minister recognise the frustration and disappointment at the length of time and legislative barriers that remain for campaigning community groups who want community energy schemes to move forward? It is the most secure way of generating electricity. The Conservatives are supposed to be the party of free markets and competition, so why are they denying consumers the choice that would come with an exciting community energy scheme?

Far from denying consumers opportunity, we are already beginning to work with organisations, such as the Community Energy Contact Group. On the content of the consultation we launched and whether it should include solutions to barriers, I will need to take a view when it responds.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero earlier mentioned the solar taskforce. Will my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary liaise with his colleagues and the National Farmers Union on combining community energy schemes with farmers and the rural sector? The solar taskforce mentions acres of supermarket rooftops being available for solar, but makes no reference to farm buildings. It makes sense that community schemes, working with local farmers in rural areas, can deliver community energy and allow farmers to diversify.

I hear very much what my right hon. Friend says and understand his concerns. It is therefore with equal alacrity that I accept a meeting on my right hon. Friend the Minister’s behalf to discuss those issues moving forward.