Thursday, 17th September 2015 saw the presentation of an new report, commissioned by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, to an almost packed-out marquee at Speech House in the Forest of Dean. “The Power to Transform The South West” is authored by Andrew Clarke, co-founder and Director of the Resilience Centre, based in the Forest of Dean. Speakers at the presentation were Molly Scott-Cato, Andrew Clarke, Liz Dunn (Solicitor, Planning Specialist at Burges Salmon) and Tom Hathway (Co-Convener of the South West Young Greens).
The report proposes that more than 100% of the energy demand for the South West can be met by renewable power generation. Not only that, but at 72% of the equivalent nuclear costs for delivering the same amount of energy. Crucially, the report considers the concern that renewable energy is not reliable (“what if the wind stops blowing?”). This perceived problem can be addressed by the same grid upgrades that new nuclear power stations need, plus the creation of smart local grids to manage spikes and storage; but importantly all within the cost equivalents.
The report breaks down the South West by county and unitary authority, looking at the demand for each area and the key drivers: political, geographic, economic and technical. Disappointingly, it is the lack of political will that is a common factor. Hurdles include the current government’s approach to subsidies (i.e. making it harder to achieve Enterprise Investment Subsidies for renewables); and to planning law (favouring fracking and nuclear developments over renewables). The Secretary of State’s vetoing of locally approved renewable projects (such as Severndale Community Turbine and the Navitus Bay Wind Farm), is nothing but disappointing.
The presentation, though, was overall a very positive affair, not becoming bogged down in the negatives; with questions to the speakers commonly themed on how to make a positive, forward-thinking change. A very uplifting experience.
With thanks to Chloe French