Letter: Cuts affect future of moors

Oakridge School''w141320
Oakridge School''w141320

I would like to inform your readers about the loss of a proposed local community solar energy project due to government cuts to renewable energy.

The Government had funded a feasibility project, run by Moor Sustainable Community Interest Company, for a community energy project in the Mulgrave Ward and this had concluded that a site in Hinderwell next to Oakridge School would be well positioned.

The project would have provided cheap or free electricity to the school as well as providing a community fund to benefit the village of Hinderwell.

This was just ready to start when the Government announced a surprise consultation and subsequently significant cuts to incentives to renewable energy which means that the project is no longer feasible.

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 and the remainder exported to generate income to pay for the project.

This small project, taking up about half an acre, with 200 kW of panels would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 50 homes and would have a been a small contribution to the low carbon power needed for the future.

There had been community consultation, discussion with various land owners, Northern Powergrid, the National Park and the school.

The project was to have been funded by community shares, a new and popular way to fund local projects, and income from the Government Feed-in-Tariff and selling the electricity into the national grid, would have paid back shareholders over a 10 year period and generated a community fund which could have benefitted local projects.

However. the Government announcement that it is to slash subsidies to green energy by up to 90 per cent and the withdrawal of tax relief meant that the project would not be able to pay for itself.

This was a big shame for the local area and was a waste of the time and government money that had gone into the project development up to that stage.

The most important aspect is that 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.

There are important climate change talks in Paris at the end of November and all the governments in the world are coming together to try to prevent the worst of climate change, which is already affecting many countries. Cutting Government subsidies to renewables will only save 6p a year on everyone’s electricity bills, but severely threatens the UK’s commitments to cut carbon emissions and therefore the health and wellbeing of future generations.

Paris is a chance to commit to a zero carbon economy, creating new jobs and new ways of doing things and I would call on our MP Robert Goodwill to address these issues as a matter of urgency.

Clare Churley

Director, Moor Sustainable