South West MPs urged to back renewables manifesto
Ambitious plans to develop a world-leading renewable energy industry in the Westcountry – employing 34,000 people by the end of the decade – have been set out in a new document.
Industry experts Regen SW has written to all South West MPs inviting them to back the South West Renewable Energy Manifesto.
It already has the support of Local Enterprise Partnerships from the West of England, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Dorset, and the Heart of South West and sets out eight key commitments to put sustainable energy at the centre of the region's economic future.
Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen SW, said: "The South West Renewable Energy Manifesto is a unique commitment from industry, Local Enterprise Partnerships and MPs to build a world-leading sector employing 34,000 people by the end of this decade.
"The South West played a leading role in the industrial revolution. The first steam engine was built in Dartmouth by Thomas Newcomen, a local ironmonger – we now have the potential again to be a leader in new energy technologies that are changing the world."
The region has a history of being at the forefront of renewable energy development with the country's first commercial wind farm being installed near Delabole, North Cornwall, more than 20 years ago.
Latterly, the Wave Hub has been installed off the Cornish coast to test fledgling wave energy devices while the National Solar Centre was opened in St Austell last month.
However, research by Regen shows while there has been rapid growth in renewable energy generation over the past 12 months, the region is still not on track to hit current Government targets of 15% by 2020.
The manifesto highlights eight specific commitments to drive forward the industry and deliver high-value jobs including investment in the national and local grid, to roll out new 'smart' technology and putting communities at the heart of new energy developments.
The document is being sponsored by St Austell and Newquay Lib Dem MP Stephen Gilbert and Exeter's Labour MP Ben Bradshaw.
It is being officially launched at the House of Commons on June 4.
"We are blessed in the Westcountry to be uniquely rich in potential renewable energy including wind, wave, tidal, solar and thermal power," Mr Bradshaw said. "It is vital we develop and expand these energy sources as a matter of urgency if we're to keep the lights on, energy costs down and meet our climate change commitments.
"The Westcountry has the potential to be world-leading in renewables – creating thousands of secure, well-paid jobs – but we must have consistent and strong political leadership from Government."
The South West Renewable Energy Manifesto document can be viewed online at http://goo.gl/57WwL