Stratford backs bid to get community benefit from power projects

Stratford’s district councillors have backed a government Bill that would allow local companies and community groups to sell renewable energy directly to businesses and those living in the area.

Stratford district councillors hope if a new Bill becomes law, it will change the relationship between solar farms and their communities

Cllr Louis Adam (Lib Dem, Long Itchington and Stockton) raised the matter of the Local Electricity Bill at last week’s full council meeting, his notice of motion calling for a letter to be written to local MPs requesting that they support it and also to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng, to express the council’s support.

More than 300 MPs from all parties have already backed the Bill which, if made law, would promote a local renewable electricity supply in turn unleashing the potential for new community-owned clean energy infrastructure which would boost local economies, jobs, services, and facilities. In short, energy sourced from wind turbines or solar panels placed on warehouses and public buildings could be sold locally, with the money generated then staying within the community.

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Cllr Adam said: “This is an enabler to allow our communities a sense of buy-in which will be good for our local economy and good for the climate.”

During the discussion, the council’s portfolio holder for planning, Cllr Anne Parry (Wellesbourne East), explained that businesses currently looking to secure planning permission for solar farms in the area will be urged to provide some of their power locally.

She said: “We currently have ten pre and full applications in for solar farms - and not all of them incorporate electricity going back to local communities. I think there would be a lot more support from neighbours if developers invested in the right infrastructure in the huge swathes of solar farms which are coming forward.

“I am certainly advocating that with any application there is at least some benefit to the local community because we could find ourselves in a difficult situation of farms going through the appeals process where the local community does not benefit.

“I am trying my level best to ensure that the local communities benefit and that they [solar farms] don’t just destruct fantastic landscape that should be used for food production.”

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion.

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