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Encourage more community-led energy generation schemes, says Bishop of Carlisle

22 July 2022

Diocese of Carlisle

Rydal Hall Christian Retreat and Conference Centre

Rydal Hall Christian Retreat and Conference Centre

COMMUNITY-LED energy generation schemes should be better supported and more heavily encouraged, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, has said.

He was speaking in a debate on the new Energy Bill in the House of Lords on Tuesday. He described the hydro-power systems developed by the diocese of Carlisle, one of which powers the diocesan retreat and conference centre at Rydal.

Such local schemes currently provided just 0.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply, he noted, and there had been “little or no growth” in such schemes over the past six years, despite indications that they had the potential to provide up to ten per cent by 2030.

Bishop Newcome suggested that changing the rules on how community schemes sell power would help to make this possible. He described current rules as “very impractical”, and said that they “need to be changed”.

The benefits of community schemes include “a significant contribution to greenhouse gas reduction, greater energy security, more job creation opportunities, lower local energy bills, and better community ownership of the transition to net zero,” he said.

“The Church of England’s vision for net-zero carbon for its own buildings and operations by that date involves a very considerable increase in on-site renewable energy generation.”

He concluded that the Energy Bill “could offer at least a step forward towards the goal of net-zero carbon”, and welcomed its three central aspects: investment in new technologies, reform of the energy industry, and reduced reliance on external sources of energy.

The debate was opened by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Callanan, who outlined the provisions included in the Bill, which give effect to aspects of the Energy Security Bill outlined in the Queen’s Speech (News, 13 May).

The Labour Party’s spokesperson for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Baroness Blake of Leeds, broadly welcomed the contents of the Bill, but said that it did not go far enough; as such, it represented a “missed opportunity, as it does not tackle the scale of the issue”.

She called for an “end to the effective ban on onshore wind”, as well as a drive to insulate homes better. “The Bill is simply not up to the problem at hand,” she said.

The Bill will now pass to the Committee Stage before its Third Reading in the House of Lords, after which it will pass to the House of Commons.

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