Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, visited a community energy project in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, 13 February, before joining a 'pancake social' celebration.
Back in 2015, Mr Taylor visited Milton Keynes to launch his 'Taking Back the Power' report on Community Energy. On this visit, he met with Jane Grindey of Wolverton Community Energy alongside Tim Davies, Chief Executive Officer at Camphill Milton Keynes Communities in Willen Park, where solar PV panels have since been installed.
Whilst the project has been a success, Wolverton Community Energy is facing challenges due to the reduction in Government support for uptake of renewables. Jane Grindey said:
"We're in a position where the market has become less competitive, making it harder to stack up the numbers when thinking about new installations. There is still an appetite for renewable energy in the wider community, but it is getting harder to make projects viable - we are having to be very creative."
Keith Taylor said:
"It is wonderful to see all that Wolverton Community Energy has achieved in the last 3 years and I am encouraged that renewable energy is helping to serve the wonderful Camphill Communities here in Milton Keynes. But we need to see more, not less investment and support from the Government if such community-led initiatives are to succeed. Whilst they continue to support fracking, offer huge subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and back the Big 6, the prospect of a truly renewable energy future continues to look shaky."
The senior Green MEP also learned all about the work of Camphill, a community where around 70 adults with learning difficulties live and work on-site with their full-time carers. But Tim Davies explained to Keith that already the organisation is starting to feel the impact of Brexit - with it becoming harder to fill the volunteer slots that enable the community to thrive.
"The application process is making it harder for people to come on a 1-year volunteer visa and they are simply not being made to feel welcome. If this is a sign of things to come, I am worried for the future of the community and all the activities we are able to organise thanks to our team of volunteers."
In the evening, Mr Taylor was the special guest at a Pancake Day Social at Centrecom. The Green Party MEP enjoyed a green-tinted celebration, with drinks, music, and pancakes alongside community campaigners from across Milton Keynes.
Speaking about his visit Keith Taylor said:
“It’s great to be back in Milton Keynes again enjoying the company of all my green friends at this pancake social. Earlier today, on my visit to Camphill I was truly inspired by the work there. Their principled belief in the value of humanity is a breath of fresh air in today’s troubled political climate. And seeing a large array of solar panels on the roof generating clean electricity shows the way forward for power generation. I hope to see the same community spirit continue to spread across Milton Keynes and the South East."