Church, charity and business leaders call for community energy revolution

February 01, 2012

A coalition of  civil society leaders from UK organisations with over twelve million members will today (1 February) call for community energy to play a substantial role in meeting the country’s climate change targets.
Leading figures from The Co-operative; the National Trust; The National Federation of Women’s Institutes; the Church of England and Campaign to Protect Rural England will today meet Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to launch their joint ‘vision for community energy’, which supports dramatically scaling up the number of community owned renewable energy projects across the country, and to discuss how the Government can best assist. 

At the same time, local energy schemes will receive another boost today as The Co-operative launches its Community Energy Challenge, a competition which will result in six communities across the UK receiving support to set up their own energy projects. The Co-operative is setting aside £1 million in 2012 to support community energy. This will involve everything from mentoring for start-ups through to the underwriting of co-operative share offers in local co-operatives. 

Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at The Co-operative, says: “We want nothing less than a clean energy revolution, with communities controlling and benefiting from their own renewable energy. Talk of a new dash for gas shales, which could see up to 3,000 wells installed across the UK, highlights the choices we face – more and dirtier sources of fossil fuels or clean energy owned and controlled by communities.”

Patrick Begg, Director of Rural Enterprise at The National Trust, comments: “Many other European countries are way ahead of the UK, as we found out when visiting German communities last year. Germany produces over 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, with communities generating about a quarter of this. In the UK, less than 1 per cent is generated by our communities, a figure this coalition wants to dramatically increase by 2020. Today we are asking the Government to support us in this.” 

Ruth Bond, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, comments: “The WI has been active on renewable energy since the 1970s. We see community energy as people working together, not having schemes imposed on them. This is a great opportunity for our 7,000 WIs across the UK to tackle climate change and leave a legacy for the next generation.”

David Shreeve, the Church of England's national environment adviser says, "The Church of England has a presence in every community with 16,000 churches nationwide. We fully support community energy projects as a way of working together to provide a clean, secure energy supply and to help heat and electricity become more sustainable for all.”

In the coming months and years, the coalition, who were brought together by The Co-operative and its partners, sustainable development organisations Forum for the Future and Carbon Leapfrog, collectively plan to meet at regular intervals to make practical steps to drive the shared vision forwards and champion community energy among their members. Late last year coalition representatives visited Germany to see examples of other successful community schemes.

Contact Information:

The Co-operative Group - Dave Smith, PR Manager
t: 0161 827 5614 / m: 07702 152771

Forum for the Future - Natalie McCallum, Communications Officer
t: 0207 324 3617 / m: 07870 726 874

The National Trust - Mike Collins, Senior Press Officer (natural environment)
t: 01793 817708 / m: 07900 138419

The National Federation of Women’s Institutes - Charlotte Fiander, Head of PR
t: 0207 371 9300 ex. 209 / m: 07803 086115

The Church of England - Rachel Harden, Senior Media Officer, Archbishops' Council
t: 020 7898 1464

Additional Information:

To read our community energy vision statement, please see the pdf attachment.

About The Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over six million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 106,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at

About Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future is a non-profit organisation working globally with business and government to create a sustainable future. We aim to transform the critical systems that we all depend on, such as food, energy and finance, to make them fit for the challenges of the 21st century. We have 15 years’ experience inspiring new thinking, building creative partnerships and developing practical innovations to change our world.

About Carbon Leapfrog

Carbon Leapfrog is a business-led charity that galvanises and channels high-value, professional advice from leading service providers across a range of disciplines including legal, finance, marketing and consultancy into UK and international carbon reduction projects – for free.  It supports innovative projects that make a real, tangible and measurable difference, ranging from community energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, microgrid deployment and behavioural change initiatives to international development and support for social entrepreneurs.

About The National Trust

The National Trust cares for over 300 of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's greatest historic houses and gardens, 1,000 km of coastline and vast swathes of our most beautiful countryside. People of all ages - individuals, schools and communities - get involved each year with our projects, events and working holidays and over 60,000 volunteers help to bring the properties alive for the Trust's 4 million members and many more million visitors. Find out more at:

About The National Federation of Women’s Institutes

The WI is the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK with more than 210,000 members in 7,000 WIs. It plays a unique role in enabling women to develop new skills, giving them opportunities to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and provides wide-ranging activities for members to get involved in.

About the Church of England and