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Sarah Jane blogs on fuel and energy

Well, election day is almost upon us – only two more sleeps- three more till we get our local results which we’ll expect around Friday lunch-time…exciting times!  I imagine I’ll be doing updates on twitter @sj4central and facebook – Sarah Jane Smalley or
The weather isn’t looking great for Thursday, but please don your rainware and get out and vote – it’s not just about supporting me, it’s about the democratic process and us showing that we DO care about what happens in our local area.
sharrowhead-solarpanels-sarahjaneToday my final pre-election blog is on fuel and energy.  As I’ve mentioned before, the Greens put in a Sheffield Council  budget amendment this time around to put solar panels on council housing to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and, importantly, to reduce fuel bills.  The Council in Kirklees, where the Greens have the balance of power, have brought in a similar scheme and they think their tenants will save £240 a year on average   We’ll also carry on pushing for better insulation – like the cladding on Lansdowne and Hanover Estates.  I think there’s a job we’ve still got to do about education as well – many of us don’t know that having heating on at a low heat for longer (rather than quick hot bursts) and good ventilation are key to keeping energy use (and bills) down (and to stopping condensation and mould).

windpoweroverSheffieldWe are all using more energy all the time – as our lives become more tech-dependent – and we know that not only are fossil fuels not infinite resources, but also our national grid won’t have the capacity to keep up with our ongoing needs.  Germany has been in the news in the past couple of weeks as they’ve hit new records (74%) in the amount of their energy use being supplied by renewables:  I lived in Germany for a year as part of my university degree.  It’s 20 years ago now and it was the first time I’d ever seen wind farms – I was blown away (ha ha) by them then, and I still am.  There is no doubt that there’s no perfect answer – anything we do is going to have an impact in one way or another, but we know that fossil fuels aren’t sustainable and we know only too well what current nuclear fall-out can look like.  This new solar array in the States can provide electricity to 230,000 homes:

SJ w AlexisWhen I was living in Senegal, in West Africa, one of my friends was an electrician working on solar panels out there…how amazing it would be if we could exploit the African sun rather than African people.  There aren’t many Senegalese people in Sheffield, so it was particularly lovely to meet a voter whose mum is Senegalese (and dad is Gambian) whilst out canvassing on Saturday in Highfield…the sky that day was almost Senegalese blue too!

The Greens introduced a no-fracking in Sheffield motion at the Council which we can all be proud of.  It’s not just the expense and environmental damage it does, it’s also that even experts say that it will only put off the inevitable (moving to renewable) for a decade at the most, whilst wreaking irrevocable damage – i.e. we’ll screw up our landscapes, spend loads of money, potentially impact the bio-diversity and health of our communities and for no long-term gain.  Bawtry (in Rotherham) is on our door-step though (and where my brother and one of my sisters was born) and there are plans to frack there…more here
Now and into the future, we’ll keep lobbying for more public control of energy companies, and to bring energy supply local wherever we can.  This is the sensible, sustainable option, and we’re all about that.
In other news, it’s been another eventful week, including being stopped in the street by a family rushing to hospital for an impending new arrival, but who made time to demand posters, (fingers crossed baby is OK – haven’t heard yet), a kick-off on Landsdowne involving lots of running about and some inadvertent Parkour (street obstacle course) (not by me) and the rescuing and temporary homing of some gooseberry bushes…
…see you on the other side!

Read Sarah Jane’s previous blogs here

Topics: Central, City Wide, Climate Change, Council, Economy, Energy, General, Housing, International, pollution, Sarah Jane Smalley