The UK government’s new Community Energy Fund has come under fire from Community Energy Scotland (CES), with the body urging London to rethink the decision. The £10m renewables fund, which is only available in England, was announced by Whitehall as an alternative to allowing amendments to the Energy Bill that would have allowed community energy schemes across the UK to sell their clean, renewable power to local people – and provide a guaranteed price for electricity. Following CES’s initial support for the amendments, as well as providing extensive input on what this fund should look like if they were not to go through, the body has expressed its surprise and frustration both at the amendments being dropped and that the announced fund excludes Scotland.
CES has called on the government to commit to the inclusion of local energy trading through the Review of Electricity Markets Arrangements and to commit a portion of the Community Energy Fund to the devolved nations in order to ensure all communities across the UK can take advantage of the scheme. “The argument from the UK government that this fund replaces the inclusion of the community energy amendments in the Energy Bill doesn’t hold up,” said CES chief executive Zoë Holliday. “The proposed amendments in the Energy Bill would have had a positive impact for community energy groups across the UK, so it does not make any sense that any fund that is being launched instead of the amendments (or to act as a bridge until such time as regulations are improved for the better) applies only to England. “The potential for community renewable energy to benefit local economies is continuing to be blocked by unfair regulations; local communities are prevented from selling energy that they produce to local people and in turn tackling fuel poverty; increasing local resilience; and investing locally in communities. “The impact of the Community Energy Fund will be trivial compared to the opportunities that communities could have had if these amendments went through. “While we appreciate and commend the Scottish government’s consistent support for the CARES programme, any new additional funding in lieu of a UK wide change on legislation should be available to community groups across the UK, including our over 400 members in Scotland, either by allowing communities in Wales and Scotland to apply to the new Community Energy Fund or by allocating a certain proportion of this additional new money to be allocated to the devolved nations to distribute via their existing programmes.”
Credits: renews.biz [Image: Pixabay]