Welsh Government Failing on Community Energy
An influential report has provided damning evidence of the Welsh Government’s lack of progress on community energy.
Published today, the Second Annual Report of the Climate Change Commission for Wales highlights the sluggishness of Welsh Government (WG) to promote or support community action on energy in Wales.
Despite optimism around the launch of Community Energy Wales in June 2012 and continued calls for communities to be better engaged in energy generation, today’s report finds little evidence of action.
In reporting that Wales faces ‘serious challenges’ as a result of climate change, the report lists ‘engaging civil society’ as one of its identified themes for action. This theme includes support for community energy projects.
According to the report, the reason that action from the WG is so urgently required is that the ‘engagement and support needed by the third sector is not fully met’ by the WG’s Climate Change Engagement Strategy. Delays have made the WG’s progress ‘difficult to assess’.
The outcome seems to be that while the WG has courted publicity through the launch of Community Energy Wales, evidence of action is extremely hard to find. The report recommends that the WG’s existing strategies and programmes ‘be reviewed’ with an emphasis of their ‘delivery of measurable impact’.
This latest criticism follows a call from the Commission for the WG to ‘seek to increase investment opportunities for community scale energy’ in the Commission’s first annual report.
With renewable energy high on the political agenda in Wales, it is surprising and disappointing that the WG has not grasped the opportunity to encourage and support action at a local level.
Community schemes are difficult to get off the ground, but with small amounts of central support communities across the country have shown how they can take up the challenge of delivering small-scale renewables and efficiency measures in both urban and rural locations.
WG needs to be bolder in generating interest in energy saving at a local level.
Renewable generating companies are doing their bit with donations to local charities and foundations – £623k has so far been voluntarily given by the private sector – with beneficiaries including Windfall in Mid-Wales.
It is time that the WG played its part by increasing support and raising awareness of the possibilities that community energy schemes present. Doing so could help speed up the delivery of the WG’s broader Climate Change Strategy.