At the Council meeting on 2 November, Sheffield Labour Councillors successfully passed an amended motion committing the Council to develop a community renewable energy strategy for Sheffield.
Labour and Co-operative Councillor Minesh Parekh proposed committing the Council to consider how best to scale up community-owned energy and give local people more control over local renewables generation.
The amended motion also committed the Council to work to remove procurement barriers to community-owned energy providers, as part of the ongoing development of its Ethical Procurement Policy and Community Wealth Building Charter – both of which are Labour initiatives locally.
Sheffield is already a regional leader and generates more renewable energy than other comparable cities, and recently committed £3.5m of capital investment through Labour’s budget amendment ‘to decarbonise community buildings, install renewable energy infrastructure, and enact energy efficiency measures.’
Cllr Minesh Parekh said:
“The twin climate and cost-of-living crises require rapid and radical action, to transition us away from polluting fossil fuels, end our reliance on Russian gas, and generate enough energy for our communities.
“Sheffield is already a leader in renewables generation, and in the absence of Government action, we’re working to build Sheffield as a powerhouse for clean growth. By connecting this with our Community Wealth Building work we can ensure our efforts to tackle the climate crisis and deliver more for local communities too.
“As a representative of the Co-operative Party, I’m particularly pleased that we’re going to begin unpicking barriers procurement energy co-operatives currently face, so that we can support the expansion of workplace democracy across the renewables sector.”
Cllr Julie Grocutt, who Co-Chairs the Council’s Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee, said:
“We’re delighted to secure backing to go further in the council’s ongoing efforts to deliver local and renewable energy. The Committee I Chair will now look at requiring new energy generation projects of 5MW or above to have not juts least 5% local ownership – but quadrupling that to 20%
“Ultimately, we all need to work across all political parties to tackle the two crisis of our current times – the cost-of-living crisis and the climate crisis. And a radical community renewable energy strategy has to play a big part in our local efforts in this”.
“It’s telling that while the government rushed ahead with flawed measures like commencing fracking, Labour are committed to clean and local solutions to these crises”
The amended motion also aligned itself with the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s Energy Strategy, which has set ambitions to double the number of community energy organisations in South Yorkshire by 2040, and produce 100kW of community energy per year by 2030.
Councillors also spoke of pursuing this agenda as part of the Council’s Community Wealth Building strategy, which new South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has signalled his support for.
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said:
“South Yorkshire’s communities were built on the wealth of the carbon economy, based on the coal and iron in the hills around us. Now, we have the opportunity for our region to power a world ready for net zero.
“We have a strong base to build from, with rising renewable energy firms in communities across the region and genuinely world-leading firms such as ITM Power being headquartered here.
“I congratulate Sheffield Labour’s Councillors on their work to bring together plans to support clean, good jobs to South Yorkshire; to hasten our energy transition; and to ensure that wealth stays local through more diverse forms of ownership. I hope to build on this as the Combined Authority takes forward its Clean Energy Strategy for the region.”
The Council meeting can be watched back here – https://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=8358
Full amended motion text, ‘A Renewable Energy Strategy for Sheffield’, below:
- Believes that, if Sheffield is to play its part in achieving the Paris Climate targets, meet its net zero target by 2030 and address the cost of living crisis, we need to reduce energy demand through energy efficiency measures such as retrofitting homes and other buildings; and to significantly raise the amount of energy we produce from renewable sources;
- Believes that having more of our energy produced from renewable sources helps us control costs by having secure forms of energy generated locally; energy security means that the UK is less at the mercy of dubious and undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records that are often the suppliers of fossil fuels;
- Believes that the Co-operative Party’s plan for community-owned energy, which sets out how the Government can scale up community-owned energy—including through establishing a new National Community Energy fund and developing a National Community Energy Strategy—would give local people control over renewable production and deliver energy sovereignty for our communities;
- Believes that, as part of the on-going development of the Ethical Procurement Policy and Community Wealth Building Charter, the council must work to remove procurement barriers to producers selling their energy locally, and believes allowing councils to prioritise community-owned projects in procurement and planning would level the playing-field between community-owned energy and privately-owned giants;
- Believes that the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s Energy Strategy is right to set ambitions to double the number of community energy organisations in South Yorkshire by 2040, and produce 100kW of community energy per year by 2030;
- Believes that the Council must continue working alongside Sheffield MPs to put pressure on government to deliver the Local Electricity Bill, in order to deliver more clean, local energy that benefits local communities;
- Supports the £3.5m of capital investment put forward through Labour’s budget amendment in March 2022 – to decarbonise community buildings, install renewable energy infrastructure, and enact energy efficiency measures – and believes this shows the Council’s ambition to deliver Clean Growth and to help Sheffield through the cost-of-living crisis;
- Notes that Sheffield generates more renewable energy than other comparable cities, but has relatively low levels of solar, wind and hydroelectricity; believes, therefore, this investment is key to creating jobs and reducing emissions from the Councils 38,000 homes and 4,000 land and property assets including community buildings;
- Notes that the Strategy and Resources committee recently approved £13.24 million to improve insulation on 117 ‘Airey’ properties and £10.42 million to install external wall and roof insulation to 255 Council homes;
This Council resolves:-
- to ask the Transport, Regeneration and Climate Policy Committee to consider:-
- conducting an audit of the potential for renewable energy installations and energy efficiency measures on all Council land and property, draw up a priority list for installations based on the most potential to save energy and generate clean energy, ensuring that this is considered as part of the on-going Community Asset Plan and present it to the Committee within 6 months;
- installing solar photovoltaics on all new build Council-owned buildings where technically feasible, recognising that integrated roof systems are cheaper to install than retrofitting solar systems after construction;
- creating a Local Area Energy Plan for Sheffield that has the buy-in of the wider community and lead a local area energy planning process that involves both the network operators and other key stakeholders, including developers, energy experts and community energy groups – with each Local Area Committee (LAC) involved and maximising the ‘tool kit for engagement’ in the development of Local Area Energy Plans;
- investigating establishing strategic partnerships with renewable and energy efficiency installers to help ensure certainty on cost and delivery of measures and report back to the Committee within 6 months;
- encouraging the establishment of partnerships with local Community Renewables organisations to enable low cost/no cost installations funded through citizens’ investments;
- maximising external funding to finance installations using Government, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and any ethical sources;
- using funding available for solar installations from Cooperatives on Council buildings and encouraging take up of this funding by large commercial organisations;
- working with Strategy and Resources to address procurement barriers to support community energy installations on Council buildings through the development of Sheffield’s Ethical Procurement Policies and Community Wealth Building Charter;
- encouraging wider community investment in local renewable energy projects through a range of measures including, but not limited to, Community Share Offers and Municipal Bonds;
- working alongside the Housing Committee to develop a compelling offer for private householders and landlords to support the installation of solar photovoltaics and high cost energy efficiency measures;
- encouraging best practice in Planning to support renewable energy installations by developers and to create a low carbon energy supply;
- encouraging renewable and energy efficiency skills by establishing links and relationships between our partners in the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors with appropriate local training and education providers;
- Work alongside the Economic Development and Skills Committee to ensure training opportunities and new skills are included in all projects and that contracts related to energy efficiency and renewables should include commitments from contractors on providing training opportunities and new skills for local people; and
- requiring new energy generation projects of 5MW or above to have at least 20% local ownership.