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Church support for community energy is vital tool in combatting fuel poverty, says Energy Secretary


The Church of England is well placed to support community energy initiatives which will help the fuel poor while supporting energy projects in the developing world, said Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change today.

He was speaking at a roundtable meeting at Church House, Westminster to launch the Community Energy Coalition's* 'Manifesto for a community energy revolution'. He added that the Church was good at motivating people to help build a new sense of society

The coalition is supported by Shrinking the Footprint the Church of England's national environment campaign along with other organisations including the Co-operative, the National Trust, The National Federation of Women's Institutes and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The Secretary of State spoke of the importance of community energy initiatives and the Government's commitment to them. He said that the decline in cost of solar power could help poor communities in the UK and internationally gain access to cheaper energy with local ownership. The Church, he said "was particularly well placed to make those links with the poor".

The Church of England has more than 100 solar installations on churches across the country including a Brighton Energy Co-Operative partnership. Renewable heat is also an area of growth with an increasing number of churches taking advantage of new technology (GSHP & ASHP & Biomass). A national conference run by the Archbishops' Council's Cathedral and Church Buildings Division is being held on 3rd December giving practical guidance to churches keen to engage with community energy.

David Shreeve the Church of England's National Environment adviser said: "With a Church of England presence in every community the Secretary of State is right to comment on the importance of our churches being well placed to encourage the scaling up of local renewable projects which puts benefit straight back into community."

Paul Monaghan, Head of Socials Goals at The Co-operative, said: "The majority of people in the UK want to see a massive increase in renewable energy, however, there is a powerful minority set against this. Community-owned renewables offer a brilliant way to break this log jam, and this Manifesto sets out what needs to happen in order for this to happen. Our towns, villages and districts are full of hundreds of groups all chomping at the bit to do their bit to generate and save energy locally and fight climate change."

Notes

The full manifesto can be read at www.uk.coop/energymanifesto

*In February 2012, The Co-operative and Forum for the Future led the formation of the 'Community Energy Coalition'. www.forumforthefuture.org/project/community-energy-coalition/overview

At the Liberal Democrat Conference in September 2012, Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said "I want nothing short of a community energy revolution. Let's start by buying energy together. But let's also save it and generate it together. Just look at Germany to see what is possible…Nearly 600 energy co-operatives. So next spring I will bring forward with a new community energy strategy - so people can and will see the benefits of a green economy for them".