As much as I’d like to steer clear of partisan politics on this site, I think it’s now unavoidable. Ever since being elected leader of the Conservative Party last December, David Cameron has put the environment on his public list of priorities, cycling to work (until he bought the Lexus) and proposing to install solar panels and a micro-wind turbine on his house (assuming he can get planning permission). As Labour have suggested, perhaps the change from true-blue Tory to deep-green is only skin-deep but at least all the fuss has put energy, climate change, and microgeneration in the headlines.
One of the frustrating things about all this rhetoric is that, being in opposition, Cameron and the Tories actually have very little power to do anything. No doubt they would therefore like you to trust them, vote for them, and watch the green policies sprout after the next general election. I’ve got a better idea though.
Local elections are just around the corner. Merton, Kirklees, and nearly 75 other councils are passing requirements that oblige the developers of new properties to install renewable generation (or CHP) on site to provide as much as 30% of that building’s energy demand. If the Tories want to prove their green credentials, they should be running on a campaign of implementing the Merton rule in all their councils. That would give them three years of proven environmental performance when it comes to the next general election. And according to the BBC, the Conservatives have control of approximately a third of UK councils (mainly rural) so this would be a huge boost to microgeneration on a national scale too.
Describing the recent microgeneration climate, an industry spokesperson noted at an REA conference that his money was “on the councils, not Whitehall”. The local elections are therefore a perfect opportunity for the Tories to show that they are serious about the environment and microgeneration.