Private Members bill renew energy debate

The second reading of the Renewable Energy Bill, due for debate on Friday 14th January, will be given extra fuel with the introduction of two Private Members Bills.

Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Redesdale introduced his bill to try to end some of the current barriers faced by those wishing to switch to renewably generated energy, and Mike Weir SNP MP for Angus, introduced a bill to boost the use of renewable sources for generating heat.

Lord Redesdale said: “Ofgem is not giving consumers a choice, as it is failing to ensure that energy suppliers pay for energy that they receive from households that produce their own green electricity. The Government has pledged to work towards a low carbon economy, but it is doing little to make that happen. This bill offers straightforward and practical steps that can easily be taken to promote renewable energy in British homes.”

He added that by removing the need to get planning permission for small scale developments, the Bill starts to remove some of the barriers to renewable energy in the home.

Mike Weir’s bill would increase the use of renewable fuel crops such as wood and straw, and would harness sources such as solar power and ground heat, and is supported by Friends of the Earth, the National Farmers Union and the Woodland Trust.

As around a third of the UK’s demand for energy is for heat, Mr Weir claims the proposed law would require a proportion of heating fuel sold in the UK to be sourced from renewable sources so less fossil fuels, such as coal, would be used for heat.

“This bill is a great opportunity to help farmers and other businesses and would reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It would help in the fight against climate change and give a boost to this unexploited source of renewable energy.”

The Bill would provide an incentive for schools, hospitals hotels and farmers to install their own small scale units such as wood burners, ground heat pumps, or straw fired heating. In addition, it would allow energy suppliers to either invest in their own supplies of renewable heat energy or buy in ‘credits’ from companies which specialise in the technology, its supporters say.

At the time of going to press the debate was unfinished. However, both individuals agree that more needs to be done to tackle climate change. In the words of Lord Redesdale:

“If the Government is serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we need practical actions, not meaningless targets.”

By David Hopkins

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