At its latest seminar the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) supported calls for a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency and for local government to work together to promote the benefits of decentralised energy. (1)
Amongst the speakers were Alan Simpson, Sustainable Economics Advisor to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell; and Dr Steve Schofield, international expert on the development of defence diversification projects.
Alan Simpson provided international examples of the decentralised energy revolution occurring in places as diverse as Germany, California and Denmark. Smart energy solutions, renewable energy battery storage and new thinking in local government have led to dramatic change in these places. In turn, local communities have taken much greater control of their local energy needs and aided a reduction in harmful carbon emissions.
Simpson argued such a revolution in thinking is urgently needed in the UK and called on local authorities to be dynamic in their energy strategies, working with supportive community energy groups to facilitate positive change. Cross-party support for such measures is available and needs to be garnered to counter the highly negative changes in recent funding cuts for local energy initiatives.
Steve Schofield and Peter Burt of the Nuclear Information Service highlighted as well that defence diversification strategies could assist in transforming parts of the defence engineering sector into exciting new areas of renewable energy, such as offshore wind, solar, tidal and marine energy. They called for NFLA to work with Parliamentarians, trade unions, supportive NGOs and the TUC to develop a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency that could develop best practice in this area. Such an agency could encourage defence dependent areas like West Berkshire, Barrow, the Helensburgh area and suchlike to embrace new high quality jobs which can be locally sustainable for decades to come.
NFLA will look at practical ways it can foster support for both decentralised energy and defence diversification, particularly following the dramatic changes that have come about since the EU referendum vote. Such policies will be needed to protect British and Irish industry in the future and both policies could form part of a new and dynamic core of manufacturing industry.
The seminar also encouraged local authorities to facilitate, where practical and possible to do so, community energy initiatives. The Greater Manchester Community Renewables scheme was profiled in the seminar. Alongside dynamic schemes like the Edinburgh Solar Community Cooperative, they could help to deliver localised energy solutions. NFLA calls for cross-party support and cross-departmental work at the local level to realise ways to promote renewable energy, microgeneration and energy efficiency.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
I was enthused and excited to hear of the real benefits that could follow if cross-party political will is brought to bear to develop decentralised energy and defence diversification projects at the local and national level. The highly confused post-referendum politics will hopefully settle down soon and we can get on with looking at ways to deliver such projects. I pledge that NFLA will work with those Parliamentarians, trade unions and community groups that want to deliver a decentralised energy future that will be of real benefit to our communities and on reducing carbon emissions. I call on our member authorities to back these strategies and work for such low carbon solutions.”
For more information contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) The presentations for the seminar can be found on the NFLA website at https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/category/presentations/ and include:
- Alan Simpson – the benefits of decentralised and smart energy solutions.
- Steve Schofield – the benefits of developing a Defence Diversification Agency.
- Peter Burt, NIS – transforming Aldermaston and Burghfield through defence diversification.
- Sean Morris, NFLA – decentralised energy and the NFLA’s ‘Get if from the Sun’ initiative.
- Ali Abbas, GMCR – the Greater Manchester Communities Renewable initiative.