Climate Collapse – a Challenge for us all

Energy crisis and community renewables

Sandy Tod

The recent heatwave, described as “apocalyptic” in Spain and France, where it lasted longer than here, extreme winds that brought down so many trees earlier this year, and severe flooding on an increasingly regular basis are all warnings of serious climate collapse induced by global heating.

In Settle, ACE’s Energy Group is consulting the public locally on how best to decarbonise the energy we use in our homes and businesses. A report, list of potential projects identified at a workshop in May can be downloaded from the group’s website https://acesettleandarea.org/about-ace/energy/  along with your feedback – by 15th August.

The frequency and intensity of these events will continue to increase in line with increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations which are trapping heat from escaping our atmosphere. Reducing our emissions is therefore imperative just to stabilise the situation and limit the damage being done to our infrastructure, the countryside, wildlife and the health and well-being of our children and future generations.

The time to act is now!

The quicker we act, the more we will limit the eventual severity of the problem. This is an emergency situation and it’s up to all of us to act. We cannot wait for government to lead us out of this crisis. We have to act locally individually and collectively.

ACE’s Energy group held a  workshop on 21st May with representatives from various sections of the community marked the start of consultation on how best to tackle the problem in Settle, Langcliffe and Giggleswick parishes. Alternative low carbon technologies to generate electricity, and heat homes and businesses were considered along with their potential impact on our landscape.

A report and list of potential projects identified at the workshop can be downloaded from the group’s website https://acesettleandarea.org/about-ace/energy/ . High on the list of technologies are solar panels on the roofs of 50% of our homes and wind turbines to provide back-up during periods of darkness and during winter months, with heat pumps, biomass and anaerobic digesters contributing to the heating demand which remains after improving the insulation of our housing stock.

Not exhaustive

However the list of projects is not exhaustive and so far covers only two thirds of emissions from electricity and an eighth from the heat we currently consume. ACE is eager to get your views on the proposals so far and also to hear your suggestions for other projects you think may be worth investigating. Alternative ideas, no matter what the scale, are invited. The final plan will be developed in association with our local DNO’s Electricity North West and Northern Project Group.

We are eager to get your input, either as an individual, family or social group or school or business to put into the final recommendations to our Town and Parish Councillors. We are all in this together! You will be able to comment or make suggestions on the website until 15th August, the closing date for consultation.

A second workshop is to be held on 6th September to take account of all of the contributions we receive on the website or in person and at various venues where we will be setting up our stall, until the 15th August deadline.

This will result in a Local Area Energy Plan to be submitted to the appropriate town and parish councils as well as North Yorkshire County Council, York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Council to be considered for inclusion into their local development plans. Once accepted it will be up to property owners or community groups to develop projects subject to the usual planning process.

Eye-watering energy costs

One aspect that makes this planning even more relevant is the eye-watering amount of money spent by local people on electricity and gas – £6 million for electricity and £4 million for gas every year (using 2021 consumption figures and current 2022 utility tariffs).  This money going out of our community can be replaced with affordable rates for locally generated energy which will pay back the cost of installations we develop. The recent and ongoing rise in electricity and gas prices provides an additional financial incentive to develop our own renewable energy resources to the full.

Dealing with the climate emergency is a priority and all of us can play our part in meeting the challenge. That’s why we need your views on our local energy plan report. You can express these either through organisations that you are involved with who have been sent this report, or by contacting us directly by email at: consultation@acesettleandarea.org . The heat may have subsided for the moment, and the surging fires put out, but the time to act is now!

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