Local campaigners met with Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart at Martineau Gardens today to make the case for more support for community renewable energy schemes and tackling the Big Six energy companies.

With companies such as British Gas and EDF recently coming under attack for stitching up customers while announcing massive profits, the MP heard first hand how community projects could benefit from renewable energy.

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 technologies such as solar and wind energy.

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With 20% of Birmingham households in fuel poverty Friends of the Earth are pressing MPs to ensure that schemes such as Birmingham Energy Savers are protected.

Martineau Gardens are also planning to install solar panels on their new building, for which a planning application will soon be made, so are affected by the reduction to the feed-in-tariffs.

Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart promised to write to the relevant minister to ask why community schemes where the revenue is recycled back into the community are not better supported and said after the meeting:

“I think we need a proper inquiry, preferably by the business and industry select committee, to look at the pricing structure of the energy companies.

“Also, their commitment to reducing energy over-consumption and much more efficient use of energy needs to be not just superficial, but really deliver on the ground.

“I know that is counter intuitive – why should they invest to make people use less energy? But they know, just as we do, that a sustainable energy policy requires us to be much more careful and look at how we use the energy we have in a much more coordinated way.”

Joe Peacock from Birmingham Friends of the Earth said: “We are grateful to Gisela Stuart for her support in seeking answers from the government as to why they can’t provide a better tariff for schemes that can unlock more funding to deal with fuel poverty, give people warmer homes and provide other community benefits.”

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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 30,000 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

Martineau Gardens is a beautiful community garden and a charity, located two miles from Birmingham City Centre: http://www.martineau-gardens.org.uk/

Birmingham Friends of the Earth are meeting MPs regularly as part of their Final Demand campaign – so far they have met Richard Burden: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/bfoe-on-climate-change/mp-backs-calls-to-reform-energy-market and Shabana Mahmood: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/bfoe-on-climate-change/ladywood-mp-shows-support-for-community-energy.

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.