Local campaigners, residents and solar installers met with Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood at Summerfield Eco Village today to make the case for more support for community renewable energy schemes.
With British Gas becoming the latest energy company to come under attack for stitching up customers while announcing massive profits this week, the MP heard first hand how residents in her constituency have been benefiting from lower bills and warmer homes.
The meeting was part of Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign to demand a public inquiry into the power and influence of the big six energy companies – which control 99% of the household energy we use – and more support for renewable energy.
One quarter of British households are now in fuel poverty – in Birmingham this figure is 20% – while the big six continue to report record profits and the government’s policies on Feed-in-Tariffs have thrown the solar industry into turmoil.
Mark Clemson from New World Solar said: “MPs need to understand that their actions are absolutely paramount in driving the solar industry forward.
“There’s a supply chain of 30 000 jobs that are potentially at risk here and there are people especially those in fuel poverty in the communities here that could be missing out because investors won’t be prepared to invest.
“There must be an approach that’s sustainable and gives longevity to the industry.”
Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood said after the meeting:
“The Summerfield Eco Village is a fantastic project in my Birmingham, Ladywood constituency. The work that they do makes a real difference to people’s bills and self sufficiency and it is something I hope will continue to grow and develop throughout the region.
“Visiting them gave me a true insight as to how they have already helped in the area and what they can potentially achieve with the right support.”
Joe Peacock from Birmingham Friends of the Earth said: “We are glad that Shabana Mahmood understands the need to support schemes like this.
“We look forward to further support from her on these issues and hope that the evidence she’s seen in Summerfield today will make her a champion for community renewable energy schemes in parliament and convince her of the need to break up the big six’s monopoly on our energy supply.”
Notes to Editor:
Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign is calling for a public inquiry into the power and influence of the big six, and more support for for clean British energy produced by communities, councils, business and householders. Over 22,000 people have signed the petition to David Cameron so far. More information can be found at http://www.foe.co.uk/what_we_do/final_demand2_32882.html
Summerfield Eco Village is an award winning project to fit solar hot water and insulation into social housing: http://www.oursummerfield.info/?p=1279
New World Solar are a local company that install solar hot water and PV, as well as air source heat pumps. They were involved in the Summerfield project and Birmingham Energy Savers: http://www.newworldsolar.co.uk/archive-1000th-installation.html
Birmingham Friends of the Earth are meeting MPs regularly as part of their Final Demand campaign – last Friday they met Richard Burden: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/bfoe-on-climate-change/mp-backs-calls-to-reform-energy-market and next week they are meeting Gisela Stewart. To arrange to attend, contact us.
The Citizens Advice Bureau in Birmingham supports the Final Demand Campaign and can provide local examples of people in Fuel Poverty suffering at the hands of the Big Six.
Photos are on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamfoe/6925848551/in/photostream or can be emailed on request.