‘Celebrating community energy in South London’: a summary of the July 2nd public meeting by SE24 Director, Laura Wilson

During Community Energy Fortnight 2019, SE24, joined forces with neighbouring community energy groups SELCE and Repowering to celebrate our achievements over the past few years and showcase how community energy can play a key role in combatting climate change.

The event was held at Walworth Methodist Church, which is the site of SE24’s most recent project; a 25kWp rooftop solar scheme which was generously funded through the British Airways Carbon Fund. In a very timely fashion, the installation was taking place on the same day of the public meeting.

SE24 panels being installed at Walworth Methodist Church, July 2019

The national context and the importance of local action

The first speaker was Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood. She is a keen supporter of community energy. She provided an overview of the policy background at a national level as well as emphasising the importance of local actions.

The climate emergency

We then heard from representatives from Southwark and Lewisham Councils, which have both recently declared climate emergencies. Councillor Richard Livingstone (Southwark), and Martin O’Brien (Lewisham) shared how they intend to meet their laudable targets of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We very much hope that community energy will play a key role in helping meet these targets.

LCEF round 3 funding

We also heard from Sylvia Baron from the GLA about what is happening at a regional level to support community energy. She announced the launch of the third round of the London Community Energy Fund which presents a great opportunity for community groups to develop further projects.

SE24 investors and directors Gail Cotton (left), Eroll McDonald (second left) and Harriet Lamb (right) with speakers Helen Hayes MP (centre) and Sylvia Baron (second right) in the Southwark Peace Garden which will be partly supported by the SE24 Community Fund.

Strength and diversity

SE24, SELCE and Repowering then each gave an overview of their projects and achievements to date, which showed the strength and diversity of the sector in South East London. 

Action points

The evening ended with round table discussion of how we could respond to the climate emergency. Each group tackled a different aspect:

  • the future role of community energy groups – key conclusion is that groups needed to work together more effectively
  • tackling fuel poverty and improving energy efficiency – key conclusion is that we should engage more with  existing and trusted community outreach agencies such as Age UK and health workers to target those more at risk from fuel poverty.
  • reaching out to churches and faith groups – key conclusion is to link more effectively with partner churches in the developing world
  • engaging and working with politicians and – key conclusion is to engage with the full political spectrum
  • encouraging creative responses to climate change – key conclusion is that we will need a different approach to engage all sections of society in tackling climate change. There may need to be a different message for different groups.

Thank you to all attendees, participants and speakers who worked hard to make this such an inspiring and informative event.