We have just received news of this court case and plea for crowd funding, from the Centre for Sustainable Energy.
A scheme in the Forest of Dean, with a high level of local support, is facing a legal challenge by a small number of local objectors. If successful, this challenge could have far-reaching consequence for the future of all Community Energy projects.
A Judicial Review will decide whether, as claimed by the scheme’s opponents, the Forest of Dean Council’s planning commitee acted unlawfully by giving positive weight to the community benefits of the scheme. It is also suggested that a Community Benefit Society is not an appropriate legal entity under which to bring forward such projects and cannot be considered to be a legal structure with over-riding benefit to the local community.
Read on for more detail.
Funding urgently needed to fight for the principles of Community Energy
The principles of Community Energy are being challenged in the High Court in a Judicial Review of a decision made by the Forest of Dean Council to approve a 500kW community wind project. The case – brought by a single individual representing a small group of local objectors – could have fundamental consequences for all future community energy projects irrespective of renewable energy technology, project scale or investment approach.
The project in the spotlight, Resilient Energy Severndale, was approved by the Forest of Dean planning committee in August 2015 with a majority of 10:3 in favour and one abstention. The culmination of several years’ development work (by Forest of Dean based social purpose business, The Resilience Centre), it is one of the few wind projects to receive approval following new national planning guidance for wind energy issued in June 2015.
In making their decision, councillors’ recognised the positive social, environmental and economic benefits the proposed turbine would bring and the high level of local support. Approval was granted conditional on the project being developed as a Community Benefit Society, in recognition of the local benefits this would enshrine.
This decision is now the subject of a Judicial Review, with two key Community Energy principles challenged, namely:
- That the benefits of Community projects can be given positive weight in the planning process. The Council is accused of acted unlawfully in giving positive weight to community benefit in their decision making.
- That a Community Benefit Society is not an appropriate legal entity under which to bring forward such projects and cannot be considered to be a legal structure with over-riding benefit to the local community.
Given the substantial costs of defending the case in the High Court and importance of the outcome to the Community Energy sector at large, Resilient Energy have launched a crowdfunding appeal to help contribute to costs. Assuming the case is won and the project proceeds, the intention is to repay any contributions made by supporters. Go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/high-court-challenge-to-aims-of-community-energy to show your support.
The case will be heard in the High Court on 21 April. Pledges of support are needed byTuesday 22 March.
Come to our Spring Seed Swap
with pop-up cafe, tea and cakes
Sunday 13th March 2-4pm
High Banks Farm, East Barnby, YO21 3SB (near Sandsend)
Calling all gardeners and anyone who would like to have a go at growing a few vegetables. If you have spare seeds for flowers or vegetables bring them along and exchange for something different. Many packs of seeds have far more seeds than you can ever use, 750 lettuce seeds for example, so bring some along in exchange for perpetual spinach, tomatoes or courgettes!
All welcome – pay just £1 to cover costs
Unfortunately, the proposed community project in Hinderwell has had to be shelved because of Government cuts to green energy production.
The project idea was to site 200 kW of solar panels in a field to the rear of Oakridge Primary School, which would be fed into the school to provide free or cheap electricity to them and the remainder exported to generate income to pay for the project.
The project was to have been funded by community shares and income, largely from the Government Feed-in-Tariff, would have paid back shareholders over a 10 year period and generated a community fund which could have benefitted local projects.
However, the surprise Government announcement that it is to slash subsidies by up to 90% and the withdrawal of tax relief meant that the project would not be viable. This was a big shame for the local area and was a waste of the time and money that had gone into the project development up to that stage.
Most importantly it means that renewable energy generation throughout the country has been dealt a severe blow, with many firms facing disaster, and our commitment to trying to cut CO2 and prevent climate change undermined.
Our second Green Open Homes event took place on Saturday 16th May.
The photograph shows quite a hubbub at the Heatherley Hub, around 11am.
Most visitors decided to start their day at the Hub, where they were greeted with drinks, home baking and information about all the homes, technologies and Feed in Tariffs.
Technologies on show on the day included ground source heat, PV panels, solar thermal, a wind turbine, three different kinds of insulation and draught proofing measures. What made this year different to last was the showcasing of ordinary domestic properties. We were pleased to be able to show a range of ages of property, including 1940s and 1980s homes, retrofitted with renewables and energy saving measures, and an energy efficient new build.
You can follow the links below to download case studies relating to each of the homes that were opened for viewing.
- GOH 2015 Case Study ‘Heatherley’
- GOH 2015 Case Study Great Ayton new home
- GOH 2015 Case Study Great Ayton wind turbine
- GOH 2015 Case Study Guisborough 1980’s home
Further case studies are also available on the pages for two similar events organised by Moor Sustainable so follow the links below
Esk Valley and Coast Green Open Homes 2014
Green Open Farms 2014
33 visits were made to the Open Homes during the day. We found that most visitors were already actively engaged in making their homes energy efficient or just on the cusp of installing renewables. All visitors reported that this was a really useful opportunity to see technologies in use in ordinary houses and to chat to householders who had been through the process of installation.
“Keep up the good work!” was one parting shot.
Saturday May 16th 11 am – 4 pm
If you are thinking about how to be more energy efficient and save money, this event could help you decide what to go for.
It’s a chance to see what other people in your neighbourhood have done and to chat about the practical aspects and the realistic savings to be made in an ordinary home.
You will be able to see a range of energy efficiency improvements from low cost options like draught proofing and low-energy appliances, through wood or pellet burning stoves and boilers, all the way to bigger investments such as solar, ground source heat, turbines and insulation.
Come along to hear about installation and costs first-hand, from homeowners.
Call in for refreshments at Heatherley, Dikes Lane, Great Ayton,TS9 6HG, where there will also be more information about the technologies, the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed in Tariffs.
Visit our page on the Green Open Homes website to see where the homes are, what is on show at each property and whether you need to book.
For more information, ring 01642 723137 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If our Green Open Homes event inspires you, more help is at hand on Thursday May 21st at Great Ayton Village Hall.
Yorkshire Energy Partnership and Hambleton District Council are holding an information event where you can ask questions and discuss what is most suitable for your property and talk to installers and manufacturers. To reserve a place or to chat to one of YEP’s friendly advisors, ring 01904 545020.