Brough Park Leisure Centre Roof with captionStaffordshire Moorlands is in a privileged position vis-à-vis renewable energy. since it has the potential to produce a lot more energy than its residents need and is thus well positioned to bring a fresh source of income to the community. Sadly these renewable resources are being blocked by outdated planning policy.

Outside England, the rest of the UK has seriously embraced small-scale community renewable energy projects, with local groups forming cooperatives to produce their own energy locally. However the Government’s withdrawal of the feed-in-tariff in favour of subsidising ‘carbon capture and storage’ has made most new community projects financially unviable, unless they can sell daytime power to local users. Usually this requires an agreement with a significantly-sized local company or small business park. For most individual small businesses it’s a non-starter. However, coming to the rescue is the not-for-profit company Big Solar Co-op, which can help local businesses with large south-facing roofs and can finance, install and maintain solar panels in exchange for a power purchase agreement. Local citizens can then be encouraged to invest in the Big Solar Co-op as part of their personal commitment to lowering their carbon footprint, should they choose to do so; for example if frustrated by the unsuitability of their own roofs.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, who have recently declared a Climate Emergency, could contribute by allowing their larger roofs, such as leisure centres and offices, to be used for the installation of solar panels in such a scheme. A typical leisure centre roof such as Brough Park, Leek, would produce 55 thousand kWh annually.

Since many other regions of the UK have embraced wind turbines and cooperation as a means of deriving community benefit, both financially and environmentally, it’s a shame that Staffordshire Moorlands does not do likewise. Not only could SMDC feed profits into local parishes, they would also be able to give their constituents the chance to invest in the cheapest local form of renewable energy.

There are many communities around the UK, from Cornwall to the Orkneys, that have already formed cooperatives to help generate local energy: the web links here show the sort of projects that could be achieved in the Moorlands, if permitted by SMDC.

Four Winds Energy Co-op;     Drumlin Wind Energy Co-op

Tittesworth and turbines with captionBack in the Moorlands, because of our ideal situation for wind power, a small local array of community sized turbines, as illustrated in our photo-montage, would be able to produce in excess of 8 million kWh per annum. Eventually, as our planet teeters ever closer to becoming too hot to sustain human civilisation, we hope that SMDC will be persuaded to allow community energy to flourish. We would like to know their reasons for not making a start already in the light of their declared ‘Climate Emergency’.

[1]Government promoted ‘carbon capture and storage’ is designed as an add-on to fossil fuel power stations but has not yet been shown to work economically when scaled up.