Thursday, 8 October 2015

PRESS RELEASE - Greens call for Government rescue package for the Energy Efficiency Industry

Mark Group established in 1974 & closed down as a direct result of Tory Government policies in 2015

The Green Party have called on the Conservative Government to provide an immediate rescue package for staff who have lost their jobs in the energy efficiency industry and for  a complete rethink of their lack of support for green industries.

Large long standing energy efficiency companies Mark Group and Climate Energy have gone into administration following Government cuts to the Green Deal, an abandonment of Zero Carbon Homes and faltering funding through the Energy Company Obligation. Over a thousand jobs are under immediate threat.

Green Party Energy Spokesperson Andrew Cooper said

“ Only last week Government unveiled a £80million package of training and support to establish new businesses for 1700 staff who lost their jobs when the SSI Steelworks at Redcar lost their jobs when the company SSI went into liquidation. Over 1000 people jobs are now at risk in the energy efficiency industry. This is a direct result of the Government abandonment of green policies so it bears a heavy responsibility for the loss of those jobs. Greens are calling for an equivalent package for staff losing their jobs in the energy efficiency sector.”

“Of course the sensible thing would be for government to have consistent policies that promote insulation and small scale renewable energy installations  but while we wait in hope for Government to realise this we need support now for workers who have lost their jobs”


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Kirklees Greens Fossil Fuel Divestment Motion Passed!

Motion submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 14 as to Fossil Free Kirklees
To consider the following Motion submitted in the names of Councillors Allison and Cooper;

“This Council recognises;
(i)  the challenge and threat of climate change to residents and global community.
(ii) that to keep global warming below 2oC we must operate within a global carbon budget. 80% of existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if we are to keep below the internationally agreed climate change goal of keeping below 2 degrees
(iii)  the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels in order to, in the words of Desmond Tutu, "break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change."
(iv) that there is also a strong financial case for divestment ,with recent concerns raised by the Bank of England about 'unburnable carbon' and significant financial risks posed by fossil fuel equities.
(v) that governments are increasingly controlling carbon emissions to meet international targets; a large proportion of fossil-fuel reserves which companies expect to extract will become stranded assets: a "carbon bubble". Funds which are exposed to fossil-fuel equities when this bubble bursts can expect to suffer considerable losses.
(vi) that Pension Fund Trustees owe fiduciary duties to scheme employers and scheme members, and must act in the best long-term interests of fund members.
This Council believes that;

The Director of Resources is requested to review the existing Treasury Management Strategy, and present a report to Corporate Governance and Audit Committee, Cabinet and Council to giving consideration to an additional principle of avoiding direct investment in institutions with material links to fossil fuel extraction as defined by the Carbon Underground 200 – the top 200 companies with the largest known carbon reserves (oil, gas and coal) by June 2016.

Kirklees Council will encourage other local authorities to similarly reviewing their Fossil Fuel industry investments, by sharing this decision through the Local Government Association and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Kirklees Council will use its influence to call on West Yorkshire Pension Fund and other Funds where the Council appoints Trustees to review investments in the fossil fuel industry (as defined by the Carbon Underground 200). Specifically Kirklees will ask our representatives on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund - Investment Advisory Panel to call on all Pension Trustees to exercise their fiduciary duty and to call for a review of WYPF fossil fuel investments in the light of climate risk posed by fossil fuel equities.

Kirklees Council request that WYPF makes a commitment to wind down exposure to the carbon underground top 200 fossil fuel companies over a 5 year period.”

Kirklees Green Cllrs Motion on Solar Photovoltaic Feed In Tariff cuts passed

Councillor Andrew Cooper outside some of the Kirklees homes benefitting from the Green Party 2000 house solar programme

 Green Party Motion on Solar Photovoltaic Feed In Tariff cuts

This Council notes

• Conservative Government proposals to cut the Feed In Tariff for Solar Photovoltaics by 87% from 1/1/15.

• That these cuts will mean a catastrophic reduction in the amount of solar panels being installed, leading to significant job losses and putting our modest 2020 EU Renewable Energy targets at risk.

• The threat to Kirklees Councils 2000 home solar PV programme that will help reduce energy costs for many low income households

The Council calls on the Chief Executive to write to the UK Government requesting that they enter talks with the Solar Industry to agree a plan that delivers a sustainable future  for the solar industry (e.g. Solar Trade Association's Solar Independence Plan)

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Community News - Community Orchard Action in Lowerhouses

From Left to Right – Cllr Karen Allison, Geoff Durrans, Ruth Elliott, Jon Blacktop, John Avison, Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner, Geof Hughes, Pip Avison, Sean Kirkbright

Local Green Party Councillors joined residents for a clear back of brambles at Hey Green above Lowerhouses. The team spent a good 2 hours clearing  back masses of brambles from around the trees to keep the orchard clear and allow the trees to grow. The activity was promoted by Newsome Ward Community Forum which is chaired by Councillor Julie Stewart-Turner.

Councillor Karen Allison who helped with the cutting back of the brambles said, “ It was hard but enjoyable work. You get a real sense of satisfaction from the huge amount of area that we all managed to shift in just a few hours. It was great being part of a team of people just trying to improve our local environment. More people should get involved . It’s fun!”

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Andrew Cooper speech on Emergency Motion on Proposed Solar Feed InTariff cuts

Proposed Government cuts of 87% for the Feed In Tariff for solar photovoltaics threaten over 20000 UK jobs, make even our modest EU targets for renewable energy even more unattainable than they are at present.

In Kirklees where I am a Councillor the Green Party initiative that is already underway to install solar panels on 2000 council homes is now looking financially difficult to achieve. This scheme will reduce the energy bill of many low income households by the equivalent of 2 weeks rent each year. That money saved will go back into the local economy and not go towards bolster the profits of hard pressed companies.

Nationally the Solar Trade Association have published a Solar Independence Plan that will make the installation of Solar PV subsidy free by 2020. Compare that to nuclear power that will NEVER be subsidy free.

Write to your MP, sign on line petitions, get your Council to oppose these cuts and pass this motion. I move.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Green Party Conference - Emergency Motions on Solar PV cuts and Zero Carbon Homes Standards

Emergency Motion on Solar Photovoltaic Feed In Tariff cuts

Green Party Conference notes the Conservative Government proposals to cut the Feed In Tariff for Solar Photovoltaics by 87%. These cuts will mean a catastrophic reduction in the amount of solar panels being installed, leading to significant job losses and putting our modest 2020 EU Renewable Energy targets at risk.

Green Party Conference calls on the UK Government to enter talks with the Solar Industry to agree a plan that delivers a sustainable future for the solar industry (e.g. Solar Trade Association's Solar Independence Plan) and also puts us on a path towards 100% Renewable Energy in the UK

Emergency Motion on Zero Carbon Homes and Passivhaus Standards

Green Party Conference notes:

• The government cancelling the introduction of Zero Carbon Home Standards in 2016
• The negative impact this will have on householders at risk of fuel poverty in new housing
• The missed opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in new developments
• The loss of income to the local economy as a result of these lower energy efficiency standards, as householders’ income is spent paying energy bills rather than in local shops and on local services

Green Party Conference  believes:

• That under the principle of ‘localism’ councils can determine their own standards on land that they own if those standards comply with UK Building Regulations
• That the internationally recognised ‘Passivhaus Standard’ offers an alternative to the UK’s diminished energy efficiency ambitions for new-build housing
• That the Passivhaus standard complies with UK Building Regulations and can deliver heating bills of less than £100/year for the average three bedroom terrace

Green Party Conference agrees:

• To call on all Local Parties to campaign to specify Passivhaus Standards on all buildings on Council-owned land and as a condition of sale on any council land

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Refugee crisis -Kirklees at the blunt end!

The old Huddersfield Sports Centre- not a Refugee Reception Centre
We had a meeting of Party leaders in Kirklees last week to discuss our response to the refugee crisis. When we heard there was to be a shift in government policy to a more sympathetic approach to refugees rather than the 'beware the swarm' approach of our beloved Prime Minister I figured we may actually have to do some serious work in Kirklees to play our part. The change in public mood was very real following the desperately sad picture of a child on a beach. He could have been anybody's child. There was an outpouring of humanity and certain politicians decided to keep their mouths shut, as expressing their humanity wasn't their strong point and at least they knew that much.

 My better half came up with the great idea of getting Huddersfield Sports Centre out of mothballs to make it into a reception centre for arriving refugees. Large halls, showers, secure, it seemed a good idea. Next let's look at what accommodation we could bring into use to address medium term needs. I was thinking of conversions of empty buildings such as Crown Court Buildings, Huddersfield Technical College, St George's Warehouse to provide personal space as an interim measure before people became embedded in the community. These refurbished units could also fulfil a role to address longer term  local housing need and support. It became clear as the meeting unfolded that these ideas were far too radical and sadly unnecessary. The UK Government had not been in touch with  Councils like Kirklees to ask for our assistance. Our views and support were not sought. No Minister wrote to us calling for plans on how we could best help at this time of desperate need. It is almost as if hey didn't care.

The UK Govt plan is to help 20,000 refugees over the next 4 years. That is equivalent to 96/week for the whole UK. Hungary were seeing 2000/3000 pass through their borders daily just a few weeks ago so we clearly are playing a very small Part. Given our role in destabilising the Middle East  it could be argued we bear more responsibility than most European countries for the refugee crisis, but the UK Govt approach is paying money to support camps abroad so we don't have to have actual people coming to our country. I don't know whether you could call his conscience money but it sure does look like an excuse.

Ultimately I think the UK could be the losers here. The interviews with refugees showed people in crisis but also many resilient people who will make a success of their lives and bring real benefits to any community they become a part of. On that basis it looks like the new tranche of refugees could be Germany's gain and our loss. Of course people will raise the issue of population and the impact that this has on local services but if we duck our humanitarian responsibilities we abandon our humanity. Of course we have to work for a more just world and one free of conflict but if that can't be achieved then we have an obligation as fortunate people of the same species, on the same world, to help 'our own'.