Dear Bridget and colleagues,
BRISTOL COMMUNITY ENERGY FORUM
I am delighted that you are meeting in Bristol today – and sorry that I cannot be with you to meet you all and to hear about the progress you are making.
I know there are an increasing number of communities coming together to tackle rising energy bills and cut their carbon emissions – and I recognise and thank you for the leading role you and others are taking.
Last December, my department offered grants through the £10m Local Energy Assessment Fund to support communities preparing for the Green Deal and to undertake feasibility studies for renewables. It attracted over 600 bids from community groups across England and Wales. Funded projects included nine in and around Bristol who I’m sure will be well represented today.
My ministerial colleague, Greg Barker, spoke on community energy at the ‘Leaf Experience’ in London this July at which projects shared their learning. You can hear what he had to say at http://ceo.decc.gov.uk/.
It is not simply domestic energy bills and “Feed-in Tariffs” driving this agenda. It’s people who want to cut waste, reduce their food miles and make a contribution to tackling the threat of man-made climate change together. People also want to explore the potential advantages of bulk-buying and working co-operatively.
Communities have a key role in making a real contribution to our targets – and the Government wants to work in partnership with them. This is why DECC Ministers announced in July our forthcoming Community Energy Strategy Document.
Many communities realise the need to save energy before generating it locally. And over the next few months, we’ll see the Green Deal starting to make a real difference, transforming the face of our homes, businesses and communities, and creating jobs and business opportunities.
More than 15 million homes in Britain are not properly insulated out of a total of 26m. 6.9m households could benefit from solid wall insulation; another 5.8m from cavity wall insulation. We expect the Green Deal to support up to 60,000 jobs in the insulation sector alone by 2015.
To help make the most of the Green Deal, DECC has commissioned a PlanLoCaL interactive pack from the Centre for Sustainable Energy. This is designed to support the delivery of the Green Deal through communities, and will be available early next year.
Our recent Heat Strategic Framework Strategy confirmed the important role for district heating schemes in cities. I’m pleased to hear about the heat network development projects in Bristol.
I am sure you will have an interesting and productive day. Thank you for your contribution towards our shared goals.