Sarah Dines and Energy

Jeremy Wight (HVCA Chair) and Faith Johnson (HVCA Trustee and constituent of Derbyshire Dales) had a meeting with Sarah Dines MP on 31 March 2023

HVCA’s briefing note to Sarah Dines in advance of the meeting

We have a vision of warmer homes, cheaper energy bills, cleaner air, and a secure decarbonised energy supply. Our twin aims are to encourage dramatic improvements energy efficiency, and to support the expansion of renewable energy generation in the Hope Valley.  We would like to discuss the Government’s energy policy, and the local implications.

1   Energy efficiency

The Environmental Audit Committee is calling for a National ‘war effort’ mobilisation to improve energy efficiency with at least one million energy efficiency installations a year by 2025.[1]   We would like to talk about what is needed to retrofit homes in Derbyshire Dales so that homes are warmer and bills are lower.

We hope you will use your influence to accelerate the roll-out of a comprehensive programme of energy efficiency grants and a dramatic increase in retrofit training and employment opportunities.

2  Renewables

The recent CCC report documents the reforms that are necessary to “decarbonise Britain’s electricity system by 2035.[2] The Government is committed to the liberalisation of current restrictions on onshore wind development. However, the recent consultation suggests that the new framework may not make much difference in practice.

Can you please use your influence to ensure that there is a genuine liberalisation of the rules?  Could you please facilitate a meeting with the Minister responsible for the NPPF?  

3  What people in Hope Valley think

Our surveys show that the majority of local people are interested in their energy being supplied from local renewables. We have been in discussion with the Andrew McCloy, Chair, and Phil Mulligan, CEO of the PDNPA and we have also talked to all 11 parish councils in the Valley. We would like to tell you what people think about energy, retrofit and renewables.

We hope you will support the development of large-scale renewables that are sensitively located and limited to local use.

4  Whole community energy

HVCA and the residents of Abney are working together on home energy efficiency and renewable electricity generation that will be a model for the rest of the Valley.  Working with the Peak Park we plan to demonstrate how villages can save energy and become more self-sufficient.

Would you like to visit Abney, talk to residents, and see what we are doing for yourself?

 

Email from Jeremy Wight (HVCA Chair) to Sarah Dines following the discussion

We thought it was a helpful and constructive meeting.  I thought it might be helpful to recap what we discussed..

Energy efficiency

With regard to home energy efficiency (retrofit) we welcomed the announcement (in ‘Powering up Britain’) of a new ‘Great British Insulation Scheme’ funded by £1Bn to ‘support 300,000 of the country’s least energy efficient homes to save £300 – £400 each year’ by March 2026.  We did point out, however, that this did not match the Environmental Audit Committee’s report which states that we need to be retrofitting 1M homes per year.  We were pleased to hear that you agree that more is needed.  We also welcomed the recognition in ‘Powering up Britain’ that more ‘Green Skills’ are needed and the commitment therein to ‘work with the DfE to propose new Skills Bootcamps in FY 2023-24, aimed at addressing immediate workforce skills needs … and ..by the end of 2023…  at least 35 different bootcamps courses across England’.  We suggested that it would be good to have at least one of these in Derbyshire, and you agreed.  Will you be able to press for this?

Renewables

With regard to renewable energy generation we welcomed the announcements about offshore (floating) wind and solar installations, but said we were very disappointed that there was nothing in Powering up Britain about onshore wind, and the relaxation of planning controls.  We were very pleased to hear that you yourself are in favour of more on-shore wind developments.  As you know, this is a relatively quick and cheap way to increase generation capacity.   Moreover it is both popular and reversible.  Our own survey of residents and visitors to the Hope Valley showed a high level of support for wind turbines, even within the Peak Park.  Will you please press Secretary of State Michael Gove (who we understand is currently considering the revision of planning policy on the matter) on the need for a real shift towards making it easier to install onshore wind turbines?

Next

Although we did not specifically mention this last week, I wonder if it might be possible and helpful for us to meet with officials in the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities to discuss the sensitivities and possibilities of renewable energy generation in the Peak District National Park?  Is that something you could facilitate for us?

We ended by telling you briefly about our ‘Regenerative Abney’ project, which is a ‘whole village’ approach to increased home energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, and invited you to come to visit it.  You said you would be very keen to do so, on a Friday or in Parliamentary recess.  We will be in touch separately with some potential dates.

Thank you again for your time last week.  We look forward to hearing from you.

[1] Environmental Audit Committee Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels and securing energy supplies January 2023

[2]  Delivering a reliable decarbonised power system. Climate Change Committee. March 2023

share the news