Last Saturday, Alan Simpson was in Leeds NW, campaigning for Alex Sobel, and speaking in Otley.

Alex with Alan Simpson at last Saturday's meeting
Alex with Alan Simpson at last Saturday’s meeting

Alan is a climate change expert – a writer, advisor and campaigner on energy and climate policy and on decentralised energy. He’s been working with Welsh and UK Labour on energy independence – inclduing with the Welsh Assembly on an ‘an energy independent Wales’. He draws heavily on the German experience. There are now over 180 German towns and cities that are taking their energy grids back into social ownership, and selling themselves clean energy rather than dirty. So it was great to have Alan here – supporting Alex’s own commitment to these community initiatives.

You can read Alan’s evidence to the parliamentary select committee on Energy and Climate change here.

The questions are about energy, and a greener future – but they’re fundamentally ones about democracy, about taking back ownership of the local grid at the level of town and city.
Both the green potential and the possibilities for grass roots democracy appeal to Alex Sobel, who has a long-standing commitment to the third sector and co-operatives which can be key enablers here.

Alex pointed to local schemes which have fulfilled both aims
– the Settle Community Hydro-Electric scheme, run by a special type of co-operative, not only generates electricity from the River Ribble, – but also produces profit to plough back into local community organisations

Schemes can work at the most micro level.
Alex flags the hugely imaginative Carbon Co-op – a group of Greater Manchester home-owners who’ve retrofitted their houses in a Community Green Deal that ‘has worked with 12 owner occupiers around Greater Manchester to transform their homes in to high spec, ‘2050-standard’ eco show houses, retrofitted to achieve emissions reductions of 80%.’

Alex invited Alan to Otley because he believes passionately in these principles – but also because he thinks they could work in Otley or Yeadon.

As Alex says a place like Otley is
‘ideally suited for an energy revolution. We can come together to pool money and resources to create our own energy and reduce energy leakage. We could collectively buy solar panels, improve insulation and improve the way energy is used in homes. I welcome the private weir scheme at Garnetts but the Wharfe has a lot of weirs: communities could come together and produce their own hydro-electricity, as in Settle.’
It’s especially that combination of grass roots community activity and the green agenda which appeals to him.

There are exciting futures here.

If you want an MP with the commitment and vision to bring them about – why not sign up here to help Alex in his campaign to win in May 2015.

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