SETTLE Town Council has announced its backing in support of the Local Electricity Bill, now before Parliament.

The private members bill which is supported by a cross party group of 187 MPs, received an unopposed first reading in the House of Commons on June 10 and is due for its second reading on September 11.

The call for council support was made at the town council’s meeting on July 20 by members of the Settle area of Action on Climate Emergency (ACE). To date 264 parish, town and community councils are in support.

The council also agreed to contact Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith and ask for his support. Mr Smith responded saying he was going to write to Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Sandy Tod from ACE, who is also a director of Settle Hydro, said after the town council’s meeting: “We are looking forward to working with the town council to identify and initiate potential community owned renewable energy projects in Settle and the surrounding area, following the example of Settle Hydro Ltd. The bill will make it possible for local residents to buy clean renewable electricity generated locally, supporting the local economy and ensuring the sustainability of our communities.”

The bill aims to make it easier for local community-owned generators of electricity to supply the market at a cost which is appropriate to the size of their operations and by simplifying the process.

Supporters of the bill claim that it is very difficult for local renewable energy generators to supply directly to their communities.

Only suppliers licensed by the national energy regulator Ofgem are allowed to sell electricity to ‘end’ customers and to do this, companies must comply with network codes and agreements which are both technically and financially prohibitive.

For the prospective supplier, set-up costs alone would amount to many hundreds of thousands of pounds. They claim that it is therefore no surprise that nationwide energy suppliers are the only competitors in the energy market.

The bill, if passed into law would be a great help to new community funded projects, following the pattern of Settle Hydro, which require very high up-front investment, usually borrowed.

The repayment and interest on these loans can swallow up profits which would normally go towards community ventures, especially those aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including renewable energy generation.