Friday, 24 February 2012

Visiting Summerfield Eco Village with Shabana Mahmood

Today, as part of my year volunteering with Friends of the Earth, I had the opportunity of attending a meeting with MP Shabana Mahmood. Members of Birmingham Friends of the Earth, representatives of New World Solar and Family Housing Association, and local residents met at Memorial Hall on Summerfield Crescent to inform Shabana about Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign and encourage her to support us.
 The campaign calls on the Government to help fix our broken energy system. We are urging David Cameron to launch a public inquiry into the power and influence of the big six energy companies that provide us with 99% of our household energy. We also want the Government to stop axing support for smaller, clean energy companies and community energy projects.

It was great to be able to experience the eco-village of Summerfield first hand and see the innovative energy saving processes that have been installed in the parish office. Examples of these were the light wells that let daylight in through the roof and work as well as electric lights (and look even nicer). Around the walls were displays of the types of insulation used in the walls, including sheep wool. The effects of this were clear immediately on entering the invitingly warm building.
The meeting opened with a brief history of the Summerfield area from local resident Chris Vaughan, who explained that the idea for the parish eco office developed as part of the regeneration of Summerfield, and was unanimously pushed forward by those involved in the project. Chris believes that the renovation of Summerfield is a main factor in making the area a desirable place to live.

Kara Moses and Joe Peacock (Birmingham Friends of the Earth) introduced the Final Demand campaign. Kara talked about the power of the big six, the public’s outrage at the rocketing prices despite a fall in gas prices and the enormous profits of the energy companies despite a fall in sales. Joe spoke about the cuts in Feed in Tariffs and the unstable future of the solar industry that has come about as a result of the Government’s decisions.

Overall, Shabana seemed positive and enthusiastic about a greener future for the West Midlands. She understood the need to start a green revolution, and was aware that the West Midlands is the most fuel poor region in the UK. She expressed particular interest in New World Solar, asking director Mark Clemson for a history and briefing of the company.
Shabana agreed to take away the joint statement for further discussion, and those who attended the meeting had a photo taken outside the parish office.
Sara Linton

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