Nidderdale energy could help residents out of fuel poverty

Steps are being taken to help create a community energy scheme in Nidderdale.

Organisers hope that the newly formed Nidderdale Community Energy Cooperative will help slow climate change and aid those suffering fuel poverty by kickstarting renewable energy projects in the area.

Spokesman Brian Appleby said the group held its first meeting at Summerbridge Methodist Church to decide the next steps to achieving their goals.

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“The group discussed the likely role of the organisation and which types of community energy could possibly be developed in Nidderdale to kick start renewable energy projects.

“These included hydro, wind, solar, air and ground heat sources, anaerobic digesters, one or more of these or none and develop national energy links.

“We also asked where could any of these be established - very small local, urban, wider area or whole valley.”

In an open letter to MP Julian Smith, the group has called for the Government to enable community energy schemes to be included in the Energy Security Bill.

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“We believe that including Community Energy in the Energy Security Bill has significant benefits for this constituency,” stated Brian.

“The establishment of more locally led Community Energy projects is a move to a more secure energy system, especially in the current global political climate. “Additionally it will potentially strengthen the local economy by providing more skilled local jobs.”

He added: “It can be designed to help people who are struggling with the cost of living.

Residents living in even semi-remote areas of the Yorkshire Dales are very likely to face increasing fuel-poverty.

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“Local community energy schemes can help address this issue.”

And the Nidderdale group claimed that the government’s report in 2014 stated that the community energy sector could deliver 3,000 megawatts of generating capacity by 2020.

“Now it is still less than a tenth of that,” said Brian.

“There is a huge potential that is actually being blocked because the current energy market and licensing rules lead to local supply costs that are insurmountable.”

Brian added of the next steps to be taken: “A question was raised of formalising the group to establish membership with Community Energy England for accessing very useful advice and a wide range of links. This was agreed.”

The group will go on to hold a half-day workshop in the autumn to help create a draft Local Area Energy Plan and prepare for a community consultation.

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