Campaigning to support Community Energy
'Shine a Light?/Golau Newydd' directly challenges local politicians 'to wake-up and smell the coffee' as one contributor, Alan Simpson, says. Why is it so important to be campaigners as well as practitioners?
The aims of ‘Shine a Light?/Golau Newydd?’ are to profile local community energy, to educate, and to provide an effective campaigning tool.
A vital step should be to develop new partnerships. Importantly, these must include Local Authorities.
‘Shine a Light?/Golau Newydd’ directly challenges local politicians ‘to wake-up and smell the coffee’ as one contributor, Alan Simpson, says. But there must be mutual benefit, and the community energy network must be better at communicating our approach.
Community Energy faces many obstacles but ‘Shine a Light?’ outlines the potential in local jobs, community involvement and regeneration, whilst reducing our local carbon footprint.
What we learned in the making of the film is that those who work on community/local renewable energy projects are real local heroes.
As director I attempted to become familiar with the often intricate detail of renewable projects. Often, many years of activists’ lives are dedicated to community renewable energy.
The people we interviewed for the film – from Bro Gwaun to Awel Aman Tawe to Taf Bargoed to Cenin at Parc Stormy, clearly had to learn on the job. Often the hard way!
Yet it is unlikely that politicians can or will get to grips with community energy, unless there is a groundswell of support from the public for local renewables.
However, who does stand out is former Labour MP, Alan Simpson. It is Simpson’s enthusiasm for local energy that originally inspired Sustainable Wales to make ‘Shine a Light?’?Golau Newydd.
Everyone at our charity feels that there is enough international evidence, and certainly a moral case, to ensure far better provision of local energy.
But we understand that these heroes have to spend so much time getting projects off the ground that little opportunity remains to explain either their difficulties or their projects’ virtues.
Excellent advocates and communicators such as Alan Simpson are vital. But it’s also important that ‘practitioners’ become lobbyists, as Paul Kent, Dan McCallum, Tom Latter and Martyn Popham have proved.
Others in the network need to help. It isn’t enough for the environmental NGO’s to campaign, local energy practitioners have to become more vocal as we develop a local economy fit for the twenty-first century.
Shine a Light? / Golau Newydd? was the only Welsh made film in the 2016 UK Green Film Festival held in Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. The discussion afterwards was thoughtful and stimulating. Sue Essex (former Welsh Assembly Environment Minister) commented on the importance of providing evidence such as ‘Shine a Light?/Golau Newydd’ for politicians.
Crucially, everyone agreed, the film must be screened as widely as possible, using all social media. “The community energy movement needs to innovate; to find new ways to bridge the gap between where we find ourselves today and the arrival of grid parity”, comments Leo Murray Director of Strategy 10:10 in “Community Energy The Way Forward”.
Sustainable Wales would also like to make further high quality films about local energy. They could profile:
*good practice wherever it might be found;
*the benefits that local renewable schemes can bring to particular areas;
*the importance of ‘energy clusters’ such as Cenin, at Parc Stormy, Porthcawl;
*new ways of financing;
*obtaining a greater share of the retail value of the energy;
*reclaiming the Grid.
We need your suggestions, letters of support, creative ideas and assistance in grant applications, crowd funding, etc. Sustainable Wales believes that a well-made film can communicate in a uniquely powerful manner. But to achieve high quality production, we require help.
Film and funding ideas should be sent to: Margaret Minhinnick [email protected]