This is the official SDCE response to the Dartmoor National Park Local Plan consultation, which in its current draft form puts a ban on large scale renewable development in the Park. It is imperative that this does not happen, Dartmoor has an amazing wind resource and we must able to use this to meet the UK's net-zero target and the UK's Paris Agreement obligations. We also strongly believe that action should be taken for DNP to become a leader in restoring and protective biodiversity. You are welcome to use this to inform your own response.
1. SDCE commentary on the Final Draft Local Plan
‘Major development will not take place in the National Park other than in exceptional circumstances.’
The SDCE board has decided that the time has come to provide some office space for the self-employed project workers. We also have to keep a big stock of energy efficiency measures and need somewhere to store them.
The Clay Factory near Ivybridge is the perfect place, it has great public transport links, is within easy cycling distance of Ivybridge and has a good car park for those travelling from the South Hams where buses only visit once a week. Not to mention the spectacular views across the South Hams down to the Erme estuary.
There are also two excellent local plant-based food companies on site!
Why not check out the Clay Factory for your office, meeting, party or just pop up for a delicious climate-friendly lunch.
SDCE is supporting the Global Climate Strike on the 20th September, some of our directors and members will be joining the Plymouth Strike and some joining Exeter.
How we generate electricity has been changing for several decades now.
UK electricity used to be generated at a few big power stations, which fed straight into the Transmission Network (National Grid), before it joined the Distribution Network (Western Power Distribution), and finally arrived in our homes, schools and workplaces.
Now there are many 'embedded generators' which are connected into the Distribution Network, and we also have even smaller micro-generation on our homes.
All this means that we need a much cleverer system to ensure we all have the right amount of electricity at the right time. We also don't want too much electricity on the grid.
In order to cope with peak demand, which doesn't happen very often, we need spare generation capacity, previously this has been gas power stations, sat ready and waiting to switch on and whizz huge amounts of power onto the Grid.
Or, the very exciting Electric Mountain in Llanberis, where water is pumped high up into a mountain when there is not much demand for electricity (middle of the night) then released down a vertical shaft at a moments notice - for example when everyone puts the kettle on after Eastenders!
The great news now, is that now UK grid electricity is already 30% renewable. To achieve net-zero carbon we will be increasing this percentage even further. One of the biggest challenges of renewable energy is managing the intermittency.
In the South West, Western Power Distribution are at the forefront of innovation in Flexibility Markets, looking at how we can use smart tech to control when electric vehicles charge, appliances are used, immersion heaters heat up for example, paying industry to operate at specific times of the day, and working with communities to develop local energy markets are just a few examples. All this can take electricity off the grid when there is too much supply. And large energy storage is being used to pump electricity back into the grid when there is not enough supply. Vehicle to Grid technology will also have a big impact when we are able to use our car batteries as storage for our homes.
If you've been wondering why all householders are being offered smart meters - this is why!
Three of our directors attended the WPD Flexibility Forum in Exeter on the 3rd July, to hear about how SDCE could get involved in helping to provide local flexibility and grid balancing services. It was an especially enjoyable day as it was chaired by Jodie, another SDCE director, in her day job with Regen.
We're working up some project ideas, so watch this space!
On the 25th June three of the SDCE directors joined other local residents and 16,000 others to take part in the Time is Now mass lobby of MPs in Westminster.
The aim of the mass lobby was to get our MPs engaged and actively taking steps towards the UK's net-zero carbon target. The UK government, parish councils, district councils, cities, businesses and others have declared Climate Emergencies, but what does it mean, and how can we get there?
One thing we know for sure, is that we need drastic policy changes to make it possible to achieve net-zero carbon, this is where our MPs are crucial and can be instrumental in tackling climate change.
We were fortunate to get a meeting with our MP for South West Devon Sir Gary Streeter. Gary doesn't have a record of voting on climate and environment yet (based on www.theyworkforyou.com) but he was very engaged and interested, and we left feeling very positive that we can work with him to make some changes.
We would urge you to get in touch with Gary and let him know what is important to you, it doesn't need to be a long eloquent letter or speech. Be yourself and tell him what matters, there are lots of tips on how to write to your MP on the Hope for the Future website, they can also help with tailored briefings for your own MP.
If you'd like to chat to us about working with Gary Streeter we'd love to hear from you, please contact us.
On 23rd January, SDCE Directors Katie and Sophie traveled up to the House of Commons for the NEA Heat Heroes Awards. Sophie was honoured to have been chosen as a Heat Hero among 16 others from across the UK.
It was amazing to hear the stories of how each of the winners had gone above and beyond to help alleviate fuel poverty in their local areas. Many of the winners were working at grass roots levels helping people one to one, meeting their needs where other services had failed them.
Sophie said, "although its wonderful to be recognised for the work we are all doing, it is very sad that it is required. Recently we have found ourselves delivering Food Bank parcels to clients who are isolated, in poor social housing, unable to travel or afford to access the internet to log onto their Universal Credit journals, or referring onto Social Services because someone is unable to care for themselves safely. The awards highlighted to me how energy advisors are doing this all across the country. An energy advisor is rarely just an energy advisor!"
You can read the amazing stories of all the winners on the NEA website.
Have you thought about switching energy supplier, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve used a switching site, but you’re overwhelmed by the choices?
As part of my role as a Home Energy Advisor for SDCE I help people navigate this on a regular basis, and thought it may be useful to share some tips.
What’s the best company to switch to?
This varies depending on your energy use and the offers available at the time. We always check an Ofgem accredited comparison site such as Uswitch, using the most up to date information from your energy bill. The information you need can all be found on your bill under the ‘About Your Tariff’ section.
How do I narrow down the options given?
Before getting too lost in the potential savings it’s worth checking the filters on the left hand side. This allows you to select suppliers who support paper billing, for example, or to look for suppliers who support the Warm Homes Discount scheme. It’s worth including suppliers that you have to go to directly, as these can often offer better savings as they don’t have to pay the comparison site for the referral, and it’s not much more work to switch that way. I normally recommend keeping the options wide open if you’re looking for the cheapest deal.
There’s still too many options!
So you’ve entered your details and filtered the selection. Chances are that you don’t recognise the name of the top 10 (at least) cheapest options. So how to choose?
This is where it gets subjective, but I can outline what I look for in a supplier:
If I’ve not heard of a company before, I head over to their website to look at their ‘About us’ section. If they offer a bit more; working directly with suppliers of renewable energy, providing a community benefit fund or assisting fuel poverty reduction work that is a big plus.
Once you’ve whittled down the list, it may be worth looking at Top Cashback, Quidco or similar cashback sites, or seeing if any friends have a referral code you can use to get a welcome bonus, these can be worth up to £100 in some cases!
And of course if you need any advice please get in touch with our Energy Advice team, you can call or email, pop down to a drop in session or we can visit you at home if its hard for you to get out and about.
On Tuesday 27th November, we put on our sparkliest shoes to attend the Regen Green Energy Awards in Bath. We recieved a free ticket to the dinner because we were shortlisted, and a second free ticket was provided by Naturesave Insurance based in Totnes, who provide ethical insurance (and insure us!)
We're very excited to announce our new Warm and Well South Brent project!
We have a new energy advisor joining the team, Harry Jennings has lived in South Brent for many years and been involved in community activities including Sustainable South Brent. He's recently completed his Level 3 City and Guilds Energy Awareness course so he can provide free and impartial energy advice to local householders.
Warm and Well South Brent aims to provide free and impartial advice to 100 South Brent residents and to improve the energy efficiency of at least 20 local homes by encouraging and enabling the installation of energy efficiency improvements.
Harry will be available to attend your events and give talks to local groups. We are particularly keen to try and help people suffering from a cold-related illness. Please get in touch if you'd like to find out more!
Harry will be available for drop-in energy advice at the Old School Centre on the following Wednesdays (9.30am-1pm):
He will also be at the Health Centre for the Flu Jab Clinics on the following Saturdays:
And at the South Brent and District Carers Monday Coffee Mornings at the Old School Centre: