The Lib Dems are claiming they plan to make Sheffield 100% self sufficient in renewable energy within 10 years. The fact that the national renewable energy target is just 15% by 2020 gives some indication of how challenging this will be.
We certainly need to close the looming energy gap and to boost skilled manufacturing jobs in the city. Nuclear is clearly not a safe solution to dwindling oil supplies so renewable energy generation and energy efficiency schemes are vitally important. Unfortunately there is no substance behind the Lib Dem “plan”. The relevant Cabinet Report doesn’t even set out Sheffield’s current or predicted energy needs or say how much the renewable energy schemes mentioned will generate or how they will be funded.
What we do know is that in May 2008, within weeks of taking office, the LibDems quashed plans for wind farms in Sheffield. They comfortably failed to hit the regional renewable energy target of 10.6 megawatts by 2010. Since then, some individuals and groups across the city have taken advantage of the Feed in Tariff scheme (FiTs) and 1.07megawatts are now being generated from solar panels. But the council itself has not invested in this potentially lucrative scheme, despite Green councillors pressing the Lib Dem administration to do so and showing how the upfront investment could be found in their budget amendment.
Energy saving and renewable energy are vitally important but the Lib Dem claims are little more than hot air and spin.
Bernard Little (Co-Chair Sheffield Green Party)