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SWM member challenges DECC Minister on planning for renewables

Gareth Williams, SWM Board member, West Midlands Green Leader and Herefordshire businessman has challenged the DECC Minister on planning reform at a recent business conference, to protect the environment and enable communities to access large scale renewable energy projects.

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, speaking at the Powering Up Conference (4 September, Oxford Town Hall) was engaged by Mr Williams campaigning for local communities wanting to produce green energy in a sustainable way in an easier planning system which reflects local concerns. “Planning regulations must protect rural environment and allow access to green technology” said Williams. The Minster for the Environment laid out his views for consumers of renewable energy in the future saying, “(They are) no longer passive consumers, but, as part of their community, engaging actively in hosting and generating energy, saving energy together, and even buying energy collectively.” DECC suggest that, by 2020, community electricity could generate between 0.5GW and 3GW from a mixture of solar PV, onshore wind and hydro. Herefordshire is already at the forefront of Community Energy Initiatives with many examples. Leominster School is the first community-owned PV system on a school in the UK and Woolhope Woodheat is the first community owned biomass system in the UK. Stoke Edith community are adding to the county’s accolades with The Pomona Solar Co-operative. This social enterprise is aiming to help the county by introducing community-owned low-carbon electricity generation. The scheme would be based on a co-operative model to involve local people and anyone buying shares has a say in the running of the project. If you’re interested in knowing how community solar power could work for your area contact SWM member, Caplor Energy on 01432 860 644 or visit their website. If you would like more information on how to get involved in Pomona Solar, email info@pomonasolar.org.uk or telephone 07957 348885.

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