LCCN Newsletter Issue 42 – Including THREE ways to engage in lobbying action

Welcome to the 42nd LCCN newsletter! A busy week – some positive news on new renewables projects, and THREE ways in which we hope you will engage in lobbying action – on Feed In Tariffs, the Localism Bill and even the Climate Act! 
 
These are critical issues and the very fact that we need to do these raises some serious questions about boasts of ‘ the greenest government ever’…. 
 
Please forward this to anyone who may be interested, reminding them that they can get their own copy at:www.lowcarboncommunities.net

 
The FITs reviews and the future of solar 
A
 number of national organisations are now heavily involved in the FITs review (including FoE and the Renewable Energy Association REA). They are looking for your help now!  They say that there is urgent need for early pressure on solar, aimed at drawing in political interest beyond DECC in the run up to the close of the Fast Track Review, and publication of the Comprehensive Review consultation in early May. 
 
Therefore…. THREE ACTIONS: Please see attached template campaign letters (available on our website at –http://lowcarboncommunities.net/2011/04/19/) encouraging individuals/organisations to write to David Cameron (copy Cable) and their local MP. It is important that similar letters are sent in by as many people as possible.  
 
We would therefore urge you to:
  1. Send a letter to David Cameron (copying in Vince Cable).  See the template but the more you use your own words the better! You may find the ‘customer letter’ attached a more useful prompt.
  2. Send a second letter to your local MP (local MPs can be found at http://findyourmp.parliament.uk )
  3. Email these actions to your colleagues and wider network/membership 

(All the template letters and this article are on our website at – http://lowcarboncommunities.net/2011/04/19/)

Finally, please consider developing creative actions of your own to support our efforts (if you aren’t already!) and do respond to the Consultation on fast-track review of FiTs at: https://econsultation.decc.gov.uk/decc-policy/fits_fast-track_review/consult_view.

Ask DECC to base its policy on up-to-date information about solar and a more ambitious approach in line with other big EU economies and which accelerates Grid Parity for the benefit of everyone. 

REA add: “Much of the UK solar industry is now in great difficulty, with more upheaval expected – we urgently need help getting this technology and its potential properly understood in the UK.  The UK will benefit from a much broader vision, not a cottage industry confined to wealthy green homeowners.  REA is working on an Alternative Solar Strategy that balances costs with a better understanding of exceptional benefits (and which protects all technologies under FIT).  See our solar fact checker here for more key facts about solar to include in letters – http://www.r-e-a.net/document-library/press-releases/110224SolarFactCheckerFINAL.pdf


Help save the Climate Act!
URGENT ACTION ON THE SHORT-TERMISM OF THE RED TAPE CHALLENGE (please pass this on)
The Coalition government is proposing scrapping 278 environmental laws (among thousands of laws and regulations) as part of its ‘Red Tape Challenge’.  The Red Tape Challenge was launched on 7th April. The government is ‘crowdsourcing’ proposals for which laws should be scrapped, with Ministers facing a basic presumption that laws and regulations listed in the Red Tape Challenge should be scrapped. The Climate Change Act and the Wildlife and Countryside Act are among the laws proposed for scrapping (as is the Equality Act).
 
SO please go to the website  http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/environment/ (or  http://www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk for the homepage) and post a general comment (either as an individual or as an organisation) about the need to protect our environment , Equality Act, etc. Or pick the pieces of legislation or regulations you care about the most and comment on them. The main thing is that as many of us as possible should comment. A body of people have already posted to protect the Equality Act. Hardly anyone has posted to protect our environment laws.

Currently lots of the comments on the environment section are calling for scrapping laws and regulations on climate change. 
This is an appalling subversion of the idea of ‘the wisdom of crowds’ and risks turning it into little more than mob rule.

The Localism Bill
The new Localism Bill is now before parliament. It could be an opportunity to enshrine an effective and open system which allows communities to face up to and tackle the major challenges, as well as deliver the kind of visionary sustainable development which can help deliver a low carbon economy and better places to live. But at present the duty to consider climate change in local plans only applies to the preparation of Local Development Frameworks by councils and not to Neighbourhood Planning.

The Planning and Climate Change Coalition has tabled amendments to the Bill that would mean that Neighbourhood Plans would be expected to show how they would help deliver “reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the carbon budgets set under the Climate Change Act 2008”.
 
A briefing on this is on the LCCN website at – http://lowcarboncommunities.net/2011/04/19/
Please read this and consider raising this amendment with your MP.

LCCN useful resources webpage

The LCCN are currently working on adding a Useful Resources page to the website. We would like the page to contain reports, case studies, useful web links and other media. We already have some good ideas for this page but would also like your help.

So if you know of any resources that could benefit others please let us know by sending an email to –hello@lowcarboncommunities.net.
 
More Big Climate Reconnections are being made!
People across England and Wales are connecting with their communities, connecting with their MPs and connecting the issues as part of the Big Climate Reconnection. We’ve recently had confirmation of 6 more public meetings organised by concerned citizens like you. You can find details of the meetings taking place here. Go along to learn about climate change, hear why the Energy Bill and Climate Finance is important and connect with people in your area and with your MP. If there’s not a public meeting near you, then why not see if there’s a smaller lobby meeting taking place instead. Click onto our interactive lobby map and type in your postcode to see what is going on near you.
 
For more information on this exciting grassroots action visit – www.thebigconnection.org
 
Low Carbon Food for Manchester School Children
 
The Kindling Trust in Manchester have recently completed a report Sustainable Fayre for Manchester City Council, exploring the ways that Manchester Fayre (the Council’s in-house caterer responsible for school meals…etc…) can lower the carbon impact of the food it buys and increase the uptake of sustainable food in the city ; both key actions in the city’s Climate Change Action Plan.
The report has taken over twelve months to complete and was the result of a partnership between The Kindling Trust, Manchester Fayre and Food Futures. It pays particular focus to the way that Manchester Fayre could purchase more local, sustainable food thus increasing the associated economic, social and environmental benefits to the region. The report’s original aim was to investigate the feasibility of supplying significant quantities of sustainable food to Manchester Fayre and the wider public sector. It also investigates:
  • Reducing the CO2 of Manchester’s food.
  • Nurturing behavioural change in favour of low-carbon food choices.
  • Offering a replicable and financially sustainable solution.
  • Identifying solutions which offer greater economic security for both farmers and Manchester Fayre.
The full report is available on the Kindling Trust Website http://kindling.org.uk . Copies
of it have already been requested by a number of local and central government bodies
illustrating the the potential national influence that this piece of work could have.

A chance to invest in the UK’s first community-owned solar power station!
OVESCO Limited has received planning permission for the installation of a large photovoltaic system on the roof of a warehouse in Lewes, Sussex. The 544 photovoltaic (PV) panels will generate 92,000 kilowatt hours of green electricity each year. This will be Britain’s first community-owned solar power station (without grant funding).

The Ouse Valley Energy Services Company Ltd
 (OVESCO Ltd) has been formed by a group of Lewes residents to deliver a range of energy saving, renewable energy and related projects to the residents of the Ouse Valley and East Sussex.  They are now seeking investment and the share offer opened yesterday, April 19th

They are seeking to cover the capital cost of £307,000. Investments of between £250 and £20,000 will be accepted and over £152,000 has already been raised. There is an important time constraint due to the Government’s recent decision to reduce the top rate feed-in tariff from 100kW to 50kW on August 1st 2011. They must raise all the money by early May in order to be sure of beating this deadline.
 
See: www.ovesco.co.uk/share_offer_info.html for more information.

A new Director at COIN

Climate Outreach Information Network (COIN) is delighted to announce that Nick King has joined COIN as of 18 April as our new Executive Director. Nick has come from the Environment Agency where he held a range of roles on climate change issues, such as chairing the East Midlands Climate Change Group. Most recently he was seconded to the South East England Development Agency where he advised local authorities on energy efficiency in their building stock. We welcome Nick’s appointment and look forward to a new chapter in COIN’s continuing mission to communicate and inspire lasting action on climate change.
www.coin.org.uk

More solar on the Isle of Eigg
The island of Eigg, on the west coast of Scotland is well known for its’ renewables-powered grid (and for being a winner of the ‘Big Green Challenge) will add another 20kw of solar to their grid next weekend (A positive way to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl – also next weekend!)

FiT ‘community test’
We (Forum for the Future) think that the introduction of a community benefit test would enable the feed in tariffs for community owned energy projects to be protected from the proposed reductions. We have submitted a call for this test to be included in the upcoming consultation to DECC. We would like as much support for this as possible so that the consultation covers this point. 
 
More on this here – http://lowcarboncommunities.net/2011/04/19/Easterside awarded £391k from DECC as part of its Low Community Challenge Programme
The Eco-Easterside initiative aims to reduce carbon emissions from domestic and community building on the Easterside estate in Middlesbrough through a combination of installing energy efficiency and renewable energy measures and encouraging residents to make positive changes to their lifestyle which also reduce their impact on the environment.
The Eco-Easterside project is funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Low Carbon Communities Challenge Fund (LCCC). It is one of only around twenty communities in England and Wales that won funding through the LCCC, with a total of £392,000 being received for capital works on the estate.
 
 
Building LCCN – your help needed
This newsletter now goes out weekly to more than 600 people and groups, but we’d like to get it to many more. You can help!
If you find the newsletter useful , why not forward it to other people you know, either in your group or within  your network. Let them know it comes out weekly, it’s free and all they have to do to get it is to join the network…by sending an email requesting a membership form to – membership@lowcarboncommunities.net
 
Or you can download the membership form by clicking here.
 
LCCN Facebook page
Please like the Low Carbon Communities facebook page here.
Tell us your stories
We are very keen to get local news – reports, project launches, meetings etc… Send us the details!

Website: lowcarboncommunities.net                                                            19/04/2011

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