white windmill during daytime
Photo by Thomas Reaubourg on Unsplash

If a Labour Government makes Britain a clean energy superpower, I want Suffolk to be its beating heart.

Now, you might think that is a statement of an over-enthusiastic parliamentary candidate, but while it is ambitious, it is more than achievable.

The opportunities on offer for Ipswich and our wider county are enormous, if we have the will to seize them. Large-scale energy developments will create thousands of jobs and generate significant new investment over the coming years, and I want these benefits to be retained right here, not flow out of Suffolk, a scenario which has occurred too many times before. That is going to require a lot more vision, leadership and delivery on a local and regional level than we have experienced up to this point.

Yet, I do not see this immense potential as being confined to solar farms, off-shore wind developments or Sizewell C. To truly reap the rewards from an energy transition, we need to ensure that large infrastructure projects are supplemented with a community energy system that is more than a niche interest, but a central part of our country’s energy strategy. Labour’s Local Power Plan looks to do just that.

The Local Power Plan will make available up to £600m in funding for local authorities and up to £400m low-interest loans, each year, for communities to use. It will cover a range of technologies, and finally give local people the power to generate, store and control their own clean energy. Cheaper energy, cleaner energy security and local autonomy are the prizes on offer and, as we also bring larger scale clean alternatives online, our energy system, and our country will look in far better shape than it does today.

In contrast, the Government has put forward a paltry £10 million over two years, and there remain so many barriers to getting schemes up and running. It is a fairly limp afterthought, at a time when we need to be bold and proactive. If the current energy crisis doesn’t force them into action, nothing will.

The energy transition can be transformational, not only for our environment, but for our economy and wider society too. Done properly, we will see benefits flow directly into our local areas, and I am excited by the thought of every town and village in Suffolk hosting their own energy development. From Ipswich to Ixworth, and from Lowestoft to Lavenham, it is time we started future-proofing our communities.

I don’t just want our energy to be home-grown, I want it to be locally owned too, with the gains retained and realised in our communities wherever possible. The Local Power Plan is how we will do it.

So, an enthusiastic parliamentary candidate I may be, but I am not unrealistic, far from it. In fact, when I look at what we could achieve by marrying together the jobs and investment created by large-scale development with localised, community-owned projects across Suffolk, I don’t see a ceiling, only endless possibilities. The energy transition, with community energy at its core, is how we are going to rebuild our county, and our country.