Nottingham Labour has all the right policies in place for our green future, such as the Nottingham Community Climate Change Strategy 2012-2020 and our commitments to Climate Local, the Nottingham Declaration, UK100 and a pledge to end fuel poverty.
We have a lot of programmes underway with existing funding.
- Through Salix interest-free loans we have spent over £2m on energy efficiency on our buildings since 2009, saving £500, 000 a year and 4.5T of CO2.
- We have used Government funding (HNDU) to pay for various feasibility and mapping studies to look at projects to expand or make more efficient the district heating scheme that should progress in the next few months.
- Horizon 2020 (EU) funding has triggered the REMOURBAN programme of smart cities measures including deep retrofits (energy efficiency, generation, and storage) of 366 homes worth £5.5m (about 50% matched by tenants’ money).
- The Big Six ECO scheme has enabled around 6000 homes to be fitted with external wall insulation – about 4000 social houses and 2000 private. Match funding came from the rent account and Green Deal for Communities Fund.
- We used Feed In Tariffs to fit 4000 homes with solar panels before the tariff dropped dramatically.
- We have an Ultra Low Emission Vehicles programme (Government funding) for £6m of work on electric buses, rolling out electric car chargers, and helping businesses to switch fleet to electric.
But many of these funding streams have been stopped, reduced or will be withdrawn.
What we now need are clear proposals from Government on future funding. We can make most schemes work, and would not invest unless we make a long-term saving, but we need certainty and stability of schemes.
It takes time to train a workforce in some of these skills (fitting solar panels, installing solid wall insulation and so on), and so many young people, nationwide, have been let down by training in a skill that is still needed but that people can no longer afford.
Our next set of schemes is ready, we can flex our priorities to meet Government targets, but we must ask what are their priorities now?
Our priorities are clear. We want to lift residents out of fuel poverty when the figures are moving relentlessly the other way. We want to attract whatever funding is available. We want to engage with local communities.
Will there be energy proposals from Phillip Hammond in his Spring Budget? I wonder.
Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability