There was a general election in May and the new Conservative led UK government have been making their mark on the Renewable Energy Sector with the obvious knock effects to the Community Energy Sector. We thought it would be helpful to provide a round up of the key information that those involved with Community Energy should be aware of and information on consultations that you may want to feed into.
The first of the Big Changes came on the 18th of June when Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clarke announced proposed changes to planning regarding wind farms. This does not affect planning in Wales but in England it will make it increasingly difficult to successfully obtain planning permission for onshore wind in the future. On the same day Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd also announced that the Renewable Obligation will be removed a year earlier than planned for wind. Both these announcement have massive implications for the Wind industry in the UK as investor confidence will be severely tested. They also impact on a number of Community Energy Schemes. Community Energy Wales in partnership with Community Energy Scotland and Community Energy England have written to DECC to recommend that changes be made in the grace period criteria to take account of the particular challenges for Community Energy Schemes to respond to these changes in legislation. We estimate that 20Mw of potential Community Energy Capacity across the UK could be at risk. Please let us know if you are being affected by these changes as Community Energy Wales are arranging to meet a member of the Minister for Energy and Climate Change’s team to discuss the future of Community Energy in the UK and Wales.
News that is likely to have a far bigger impact on the Community Energy Sector in Wales is the announcement on the 21st of July that the UK Government are proposing the removal of Pre-liminary accreditation under the Feed in Tariff (FIT). The related pre-registration option available to Schools and community groups is also under threat. Details of the announcement can be found here. There is also a consultation on this that CEW will be feeding into and we urge any organisations affected to feed into it as well. Please e-mail Robert@communityenergywales.org.uk if you want to feed into CEW’s response and please also respond to the consultation directly yourselves. The deadline for the consultation is the 19th of August.
Another important consultation that CEW will be responding to is the Financial Conduct Authorities Consultation. This could have a significant impact on the future regulation of Energy Co-operatives by the FCA. The consultation document and more information can be found here. Please e-mail Robert@communityenergywales.org.uk with any feedback. This is also an opportunity for you to directly feed back to the FCA on how this could impact on your organisation. The deadline for responses is the 14th of August.
There are a number of other consultations that are ongoing that you may wish to contribute to that CEW will be feeding into. You can either feed into them independently or send us your views on what you feel CEW should include in our response.
The Welsh Government have a consultation on ‘The Development of an Energy Efficiency Strategy for Wales’. The deadline is the 9th of September, more details can be found here.
Their Environment and Sustainability Committee has also launched an inquiry into a Smarter Energy Future for Wales. It is looking at opportunities such as the energy mix, a smarter grid, Storage, Ownership, energy efficiency and demand reduction and Communities. The deadline is the 4th of September, more details can be found here.
CEW has also already fed back on a number of issues over the last few months that directly impact on Community Energy. Following further challenges for a number of Community Energy projects going through the Planning process CEW has written a letter to the Welsh Minister for Natural Resources highlighting that Welsh Government Policy on Community Energy is not always being acted on at a local level. We have also acted at a local level to feed into Blaenau Gwents policy on small wind turbines and Powys’ Local Development Plan.
Our board are also continuing to work on solutions to the lack of Grid Capacity in parts of Mid Wales that is impacting a number of schemes and will potentially impact more in the future. As well as feeding into OFGEMs latest consultation on quicker and more efficient grid connections we continue to work with the Welsh Government on possible solutions to this problem.
We will continue to work hard to represent the Community Energy Sector in Wales. It is important for us to hear how these changes impact on you so that we can effectively represent the sector so please share with us your perspectives on areas we can support the development of Community Energy in Wales.
This page is also available in: Welsh