CES Outer Hebrides Meeting with Torcuil Crichton and Anas Sarwar

On Saturday, June 8th, Torcuil Crichton (Na h-Eileanan an Iar Labour Candidate) and Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour Leader) met several community group representatives from Lewis, Uist, and Barra alongside CES.

The meeting began with a round-the-room meeting of the attendees and an update on some of the main issues community generators face. Key points raised were the challenge of connecting to the new interconnector with a community that already had a firm connection offer shifted recently to an ANM (Active Network Management) scheme offer, which means limitation to what they can generate; the current uncertainty around the new transmission connection regulation, the new ANM scheme, and the lack of space for future Outer Hebrides Community generators. The many benefits that can be brought by community energy and the disproportionate benefit that community-owned schemes bring compared to private schemes and community benefit payments were raised. 

Torcuil Crichton then thanked participants and explained that he was advocating for a Community Energy Department within GB Energy (Labour’s proposed State-Owned Energy Developer), based in the Outer Hebrides, and building on the work undertaken by existing community generators.
Anas Sarwar then responded to many of the points raised and described how GB Energy will aim to address several of the challenges facing the UK’s energy sector. He explained that he thought Community Energy could be an answer to the country’s pressures, such as pressures over public finances and the need to develop green skills and “asset building” across the nation. He mentioned that reform was needed on some fronts to unlock the potential of energy development, such as reforming the grid connection process, reforming the planning process with a focus on increasing planning capacity across Scotland, and reforming how community benefits are given. 

CES raised the point that a community energy unit within GB Energy may not be enough to overcome barriers to community energy, as there will still be barriers around grid access and the security of finance. CES suggested they take copies of CES’s Fair Energy paper, which they happily did.

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