Campaign to Protect Rural England - Somerset

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Energy matters

Flooding on Somerset Levels Flooding on Somerset Levels

It’s almost impossible to consider modern life without electricity. With more people wanting more electricity, the subjects of how we generate it and how to use it more wisely was never more important than now.

Climate change is real. It is already taking its toll on the English countryside. And if it isn’t stopped, within a few decades it will have altered many of our most cherished landscapes forever.  

Farming and rural communities are already suffering the effects of wetter winters, more storms, high winds and shifting seasons. The catastrophic floods of 2013/14 had a devastating effect on Somerset's farmland and on our communities. As sea levels rise, we’re likely to see dramatic further changes.

The UK's high-carbon economy, based on roads and airport expansion, and energy-wasting buildings, needs to make way for low-carbon, carefully planned development. We have been championing this kind of development for many years. We’re already seeing what will happen if we do not make the switch. We can still halt further destruction, but we need to take action immediately.

Energy companies should be encouraged reduce consumption and be more efficient, not simply lower prices. Energy users should be equipped with smart meters and smart grids so they can to see how much energy they’re actually using. Realistic, renewable, appropriate and low-carbon alternatives need to be encouraged. Alas, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer – we’re going to have to be more flexible and adaptable than that.

Some feel that wind power is the answer, but many find the visual intrusion of wind turbines in our landscapes is unacceptable.  Solar farms have sprung up across Somerset, encouraged by generous subsidies but they mean a loss of farmland and can also be visually intrusive.

Then there is the endless march of pylons across our landscapes and the threat of new, larger pylons to connect Hinkley C power station to Avonmouth.

Our view

We urgently need to halt the damage to our countryside, by reducing the amount we consume overall and using our natural resources more responsibly.

We need to use the energy we consume more efficiently and reduce our overall demand for energy to help meet the UK’s target of reducing greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide emissions, by at least 80% by 2050.

Energy companies should be encouraged to deliver energy reduction and efficiency, not simply lower prices. Energy users should be equipped with smart meters and smart grids to see how much energy they use, and selling any excess electricity back to the grid. We want to see checks on fossil fuel production, and renewable or low-carbon energy sources so that communities can produce their own electricity and heat.

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Somerset patchwork landscape