In the face of Government cuts, Labour-run Exeter City Council, in partnership with E-On, is going ahead with a project to install solar panels across its housing stock. It has also called on the Government to reverse its decision to cut the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar PV installations. The Government are planning to cut the tariff for installations with a capacity of 4KW or less by more than 50% from 43p/kWh to 21p/kWh. For multiple installations the rate falls to 16.8p/kWh.
The cuts were announced in the same week that Exeter City Council was preparing to announce an ambitious deal with E-On that would see our housing stock and the tenants therein benefit from solar installations, reducing their bills by an average of £190/year per household. It was only by quick negotiations that the scheme was rescued.
Exeter City Council was able to go ahead but other local authorities with imminent plans to help their tenants out of fuel poverty have been forced to break their promises and cancel their schemes. These agreements included assistance to tenants whose homes were unsuitable for solar PV through reinvestment in energy-efficient measures.
The FiT scheme is a process used by over 40 countries around the world that pays people to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic [PV] panels funded by a small levy on all energy bills. The Feed-in Tariff certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s been incredibly successful at getting panels on roofs.
A suitable household in Exeter can produce 130% of its annual electricity needs through a domestic PV system. This clearly contributes substantially to helping the UK meet its renewable energy targets, as well as reducing carbon emissions and improving our national self-sufficiency.
It was always intended that Feed-in Tariffs would decrease as the cost of the technology falls and as solar’s share of total energy production grows. The legal framework set up by the previous government allowed for a gradual reduction of the tariff.
The solar industry had argued in the summer for a 25% cut in line with falling costs, and had been promised a full consultation. Expectations were for a full and proper Parliamentary consultation of at least the standard 12 weeks and Parliamentary process in March 2012. This current rushed consultation, which ends after the tariff is reduced, is not what the industry wanted or indeed was promised.
“Industry trust and confidence in the Government has evaporated”. Not the words of Friends of the Earth, but the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
There is no public expenditure involved in funding the scheme, which is funded by the energy companies. The cuts cannot contribute to reducing the public sector deficit. These rushed cuts will destroy one of the few growth industries we currently have in this country. The south west has one of the largest solar industries in the country. More than 380 companies are based in this region, and the region accounts for 20% of projects to date.
It will deprive the UK of a booming green industry that is driving jobs, growth and providing an environmentally sustainable and long-term alternative to other fossil-fuel dependent methods of electricity.
Over the weekend Caroline Flint, Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary argued that history will record that Labour began this growth industry and the Tories will all but kill it off in its infancy if these mindless changes to the FiT scheme are not reversed.
The Government must act urgently to reverse these ill-thought-out cuts. A judicial review has now been called to look into the decision to cut the tariff; hopefully this will force the Government to reverse its decision and instigate a full review with the proper consultation period. It must ensure that local authorities, social housing providers, community groups and voluntary organisations are protected. And it must remedy its past actions and finally create the stability that this most innovative and necessary of industries needs.
December 22, 2011 in News
Both City and County Councillors have access to funding for community projects in their areas.
Exeter City Council: a total of £1,500 has been made available for each ward, to be allocated in grants of up to £300 by the local City Councillors. More information on these grants can be found here, or by contacting one of your City Councillors for details.
Devon County Council: County Councillors have locality budgets of £15,000 to spend on a range of projects in their communities. More information can be found here, or by contacting your County Councillor for details.
December 21, 2011 in St James
The proposed changes to traffic movements in St James, as a result of the London Inn Square (John Lewis) improvements, were approved by the Cabinet of Devon County Council at their meeting on 14 December 2011. The work, which will include improvements to the York Road area, will be jointly funded by the County Council and Exeter City Council.
The County Council is now at the formal consultation stage and is currently advertising the traffic regulation orders, traffic calming and pedestrian crossings for the London Inn Square and the York Road areas. These formal traffic orders are necessary to implement the changes. Objections and other comments specifying the proposal and the grounds on which they are made must be made in writing to the County Solicitor at Devon County Council by 12 January 2012.
More information can be obtained from: http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/transportroads/traffic/traffic_management/traffic-orders/londoninnsquare.htm
December 21, 2011 in St James
PCSO Anthony Keller and Rory Cunningham, the University community liaison offer, reported on what had been done to tackle the three priority areas agreed by residents at the last meeting.
The first of these was household waste, particularly in the student populated parts of the ward. Ten university student wardens have been on walkabout, visiting student households to ensure that they had the correct waste bins and knew how the waste collection system works. These visits appear to have already had a beneficial effect.
Traffic management was the second issue, in particular the planned changes to traffic as a result of the London Inn Square (John Lewis) improvements. The meeting was updated on the latest position (see below). Some residents complained that they were not informed about the public consultation meeting in St James in October and it was suggested that they should raise this with Devon County Council, the highways authority.
The third priority area was late night student anti-social behaviour. Anthony Keller reported on the start of the autumn term and that police and university had made more house calls this year than last, possibly due to the milder weather leading to house parties spilling outside. Residents were reminded of the telephone number (01392 263999) for the University estate patrol, who are able to come off campus when situations needing attention arise.
Concern was raised about the vulnerability to burglars of student properties when the occupants go home for the Christmas break. The meeting was also informed about a recent spate of incidents, including muggings, in the Hoopern Valley area and residents were advised to be extra vigilant.
The three priorities agreed for the next three months are security (both household and personal) and, as before, household waste and anti-social behaviour.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday 14 March 2012.
St James ward Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Anthony Keller, is leaving St James and moving to the St Loyes area of the city. At the latest St James ‘Have your say’ meeting (see below), local residents warmly thanked Anthony for the three years of hard work that he has carried out in the ward which has been of great benefit to the community.
Anthony’s replacement will be Helen Harvey who starts as the new St James PCSO in mid January 2012. Helen told the meeting that she is very much looking forward to her new role.
Some of the must see Exhibitions are Into the Light: French and British paintings from Impressionism to the early 1920s (till 11 March 2012) and The Road to Rome: Artists and Travellers on the Grand Tour (till 6 May 2012).
These visiting exhibitions are in addition to the fabulous History of Exeter which chronicles the development of our wonderful city; and let’s not forget Gerald, who is back in his new home alongside the elephant and the 18th Century harpsichord.
Its open 6 days a week (Tuesday – Sunday) so if you haven’t already visited then come down and see what is a national museum in our regional city.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a very happy New Year. If you have been into the city centre I hope you enjoyed the Christmas lights in the High Street, which were made possible by the generosity of the City Council’s retail and other partners. Together with those in Princesshay, Guildhall and Harlequin shopping centres they make a bright and festive display.
Over the last twelve months the City Council has been working hard to support the local economy. 2011 saw major employers make long term commitments to Exeter. Sainsbury’s are creating a large distribution centre to the east of the city, while Waitrose opened its £8 million new store on Heavitree Road.
This year the city also celebrated its cultural heritage with the re-opening of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). This is a national museum in our regional city. Like many of you I have been visiting the RAMM all my life and there is so much more to see there now. Take your family and friends over this holiday period. The museum belongs to us, the people of Exeter, and is free to visit as many times as you like.
We have lots more to look forward to in 2012. Over the coming year we will continue to watch the old Debenhams building transformed into the new John Lewis store, cementing our position as the strongest city centre retail sector west of Bristol. The Olympics will be a major feature of the year throughout the country. As the second city to host the Olympic torch relay we have the opportunity to show the world everything Exeter has to offer.
2012 will also see the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Many local communities are already talking to us at the City Council about how they can join with their neighbours to celebrate.
We do face a tough financial challenge. However, working with our partners, including John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council, I am confident that together we will bring growth and prosperity to Exeter for all of the people of this wonderful city.
December 15, 2011 in Heavitree
December 16, 2011 in Whipton Barton
In our Summer newsletter we reported that the City Council had gained planning consent for new housing on the site of the Methodist Church on Brookway.
The City Council has now purchased the land and has plans to convert the main church building and build a new block to the rear.
This will create 12 residential units, including 3 purpose-built wheelchair accessible homes as well as a community room.
Since purchasing the site, the Council has improved security to prevent anti-social behaviour.
Tony Wardle commented, “This is great news – there is a big need for new housing in the city and I know local residents have had concerns about the state of the building and the anti-social behaviour it has attracted.”
The City Council is now working hard to secure funding for this development and the local councillors will continue to update residents on progress.
December 1, 2011 in Cowick
During the heavy snows of last winter, many residents of Hampshire Close felt isolated when the icy conditions meant they couldn’t venture out and about. During the run-up to the May elections. Paul was often asked about the possibility of a grit bin for the area as the nearest ones were at the junction of Berkshire Drive/Dorset Avenue and Dunsford Road/Bowhay Lane. Since his election, Cllr Bull has lobbied Devon County Council hard and often for a grit in to serve Hampshire Close.
Paul was happy to learn that a grit bin was recently delivered and installed at the junction of Hampshire Close with Dorset Avenue.
Cllr Bull and Cllr Morris would like to point out how to use the grit from the bin:
- Spread the salt/grit evenly on the road or footpath when ice or snow conditions are forecast.
- Only a small amount of salt is needed to prevent ice forming. The recommended amount is one to two tablespoons per square metre.
- They also wish to remind you that salt/grit from the grit bins must not to be used on private land or driveways; salt for this purpose can be obtained from builders’ merchants.
- Excessive use of the salt is of no benefit and will reduce stocks very quickly. If the grit bin stocks are running low, please contact l the MyDevon Roads & Transport line on 0845 155 1004 give the location of the bin.
The unique identity number inside the lid is GB 5404
Devon County Council has a series of factsheets covering all aspects of winter precautions that can be found at: http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/publicsafety/emergencies/winter.htm
Exeter CLP was delighted to welcome Dan Jarvis MP Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport to the city recently. Dan is visiting a number of regions to look at the many ways in which the arts and cultural sector benefits the economy and he started his visits here in the South West.
Dan was welcomed to the city by Cllr Paul Bull who is a Sound Engineer by profession and Cllr Rachel Sutton Deputy Leader of the council and a freelance Arts Manager.
Sara Squire from Animated Exeter joined Dan for coffee and a chat at Exeter Phoenix and briefed Dan on the background to the nationally and internationally renowned Festival. He also had a sneak preview of the programme for next year 11 to 19 February 2012 Check out the Animated Exeter website for full details. www.animatedexeter.co.uk
Then it was downstairs to the underground warren of Creative Industries in the basement….
Past the Double Elephant Print Workshops and into the cosy PhonicFM studio where Dan was interviewed live on air by Chris Norton on the “Wheely Wild Show” and played one of his favourite music tracks – “Nightswimming” by REM
During the same show Will Pollard quizzed him on on the Digital Economy Act, Creative Commons, local TV and canals in Barnsley
And then Dan moved next door to the vibrant Sound Gallery on the day they were celebrating their 10th anniversary. Here he talked to Maria Peters, Marketing and Education Manager, about the wide ranging projects organised by this social enterprise – the A2D Music Expo where industry leaders show how music technology and science are used in music; the development of the suite of studios used for rehearsal and recording; and the Youth Volunteering project, which is continuing to offer exciting training and work placement opportunites in the music industry for young people.
Duncan Chave, Head Sound Engineer, and Justin Graham, Technical Manager, talked to Dan about the Virtual Vincenzo project and allowed him to play sampled recordings of the 1782 Sodi harpsichord which is in the RAMM Collection.
As the visit was concentrating on digital media Paul recorded an Audioboo interview which was sent onto Exeter FM for broadcast later in the day. http://audioboo.fm/boos/559529-left-to-my-own-devicesboo
The visit concluded with a whistlestop tour of the City Centre taking in the Royal Albert Memorial Musem getting the finishing touches before next week’s opening, the ‘whale railings’ in Gandy Street, and the Alexandre Farto artwork on the High Street.