Cornwall Feels the Force of Community Energy

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Towns and villages will be helped to take control of their own energy systems as part of Cornish devolution.

Cornwall Council is supporting communities to develop plans to take control of local energy systems as part of its agreement for the UK’s first rural devolution deal.

The deal commits the council and government to work together to test new models for community energy, focusing on how local and neighbourhood plans can support local ownership of renewable energy and community-owned heat and create more meaningful links between the energy that is generated in Cornwall and local energy consumers.

Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen South West, said: “Cornwall Council has taken a strong approach to put this at the heart of its devolution deal.

Across the country there are already thousands of community energy schemes, and Regen SW has partnered with Devon county Council in a community energy support programme.

Cornwall Council launched its new neighbourhood planning guidance at last week’s Cornwall Energy Summit in Truro.

The guidance, “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: a community-led approach” will ensure that communities can take control of the future of their local energy systems by setting out the types of projects that will be supported and ensuring that local residents and businesses are the beneficiaries.

Julian German, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet member for economy and culture and chair of the summit, said: “It is great to see Cornwall Council leading the way in supporting community energy groups at what is a difficult time for the sector.

“Cornwall benefits from significant clean energy resources and the council believes that the benefits of making use of these resources should be shared with local communities, businesses and residents.”

Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth, speaking at the event, said: “Reducing energy bills and increasing energy security while supporting renewable energy remain key priorities of my work for constituents. I support the parts of Devolution Deal that tackle these issues with people and communities in Cornwall.”

Edwina Hannaford, Cornwall’s Cabinet member for planning, said: “The new Neighbourhood Planning guidance is an example of how the council is using Cornwall’s Devolution Deal to devolve further control to local communities. Neighbourhood planning is a significant new opportunity for communities to have their say on what happens in their area.

“By explaining how Neighbourhood Plans can be used to promote community energy the council is giving communities further tools to help them take action on local issues by developing policies which can lead to new income streams and help to tackle fuel poverty.”