As some of you might know, I currently represent the Wash Common Ward at West Berkshire but also hold the Shadow Portfolio position for Environment and Public Protection. In that capacity I lead the amendments put forward by the Lib Dems at the West Berkshire Budget meeting on this subject area. Rather sadly the Conservative leadership decided to again rejects all amendments on block. Meaning no matter what the idea, just a dogmatic rejection of everything.
This year I was bringing forward concepts that can lead to around £4 Million of net revenue to the council whilst helping all residents and business’s get lower energy costs (down to approx. 11p per kW hour, rather than the national average of 16.6p.
As you can see from the speech below, I was simply asking to investigate potentially useful things.
I wanted you all to know I am doing my best to achieve what was promised when you elected me.
Cllr Adrian Abbs B.Sc.
The amendments proposed build on previous proposals put forward for solving the energy side of achieving carbon zero.
The “keystone” is to investigate becoming an energy supplier. Something in line with the Energy motion bought forward by myself originally and then again by Cllr Steve Ardagh Walters and approved by council unanimously.
Therefore, we suggest setting aside £100K to allow the detail to be scoped on exactly how we would do this. Estimates shared with our section 151 officer and our new director of place show the potential to fix energy costs significantly lower than current market averages for residents and businesses whilst generating approximately £4 million of net revenue that can support other green initiatives.
Last year we suggested following Warrington’s Council example of building a large solar farm. The welcome stake in the ground that has followed, Grazely, is a good “statement of intent” however the site can be at least 6 times larger than is currently planned. So, 60MW rather than the current 10MW. If Grazely is not a suitable location and to avoid an “all eggs in one basket” scenario alternatives sites may be needed. We, therefore, propose a budget of £100K to carry out this work and ensure we have enough locations to build what is needed.
Third, we’d like to propose £150K so that West Berkshire can focus some efforts on micro-hydro projects. We are lucky to have good candidates for this, including The Kennet, Dunn and of course River Lamborn. The fall across the county leads to an estimate of approx. 60 locations which can run all day and night. They could therefore provide up to another 10MW of power. FYI. Micro Hydro uses around 6% of the land compared to the same power from Solar. This investment of officer time, allows us to fully explore the proposal and even seed some initial projects as location have been previously identified.
The next amendment is for £50,000 pounds worth of officer time to rework all supplier contracts and include the parameters laid out in the Energy label (a copy of which you have all been sent). This gives all our suppliers a clear visual of parameters that will be considered when responding to briefs.
We next move on to Viable Villages. This requires part of an officer’s time to work with parish councils and village communities to truly understand their needs and support things such as energy projects, but also to understand how we might support say the local pub, shop etc. We propose £40K to this end.
Important to us is removing the green bin charge for those in receipt of council tax benefits tackling the poorest first. It would cost just £100K.
Finally, we are proposing to make all the officer expertise available through our community hub so residents and businesses can take advantage of the public money spent evaluating the solutions above and more.
The total cost of these amendments equates to just a fraction of the net revenue from the projects once deployed.
Thank you for listening