Daniella Radice was elected as a director of Bristol Energy Cooperative by our members at the AGM in October 2016, we asked her why she put herself forward…
As an environmentalist I am very happy to be on the board of BEC, and to help it continue to develop as a thriving community benefit organisation. Having worked for many years as an environmental advisor, helping organisations minimise their environmental impacts and training staff in environmental awareness, BEC fulfils an important part of the sustainability jigsaw for me. Working as a practitioner, I was struck by the fact that most people I talked to understood the need for environmental controls and wanted to play their part (ranging from senior leaders to depot staff). However, they were only able to act within the existing policy and legal framework. This is how my interest in politics grew. It is so important to change the policy and legal framework in order to enable people to pollute less, and care for nature more. So, having spent three years as a Green Party councillor, mainly in opposition, I have a fairly good understanding of the possibilities and limits of action as a local politician. It is a vital role and I was able to introduce a new waste policy, bringing in circular economy ideas into policy reality. Change is happening, although sometimes if feels as if one is wading in mud. So now, I am again interested in how I can take practical steps to protect the environment, and being an active member of Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) is a part of that.
BEC is playing a very important economic role in our city. It is enabling people to invest in electricity generation. We know that these projects would not have happened otherwise, that we are bringing benefit to community organisations, and that any profits generated will go towards our region, to help reduce carbon emissions further. As a city, we need to become more resilient and to be able to control our own resources as much as possible. The money and economic activity generated by BEC will largely stay within the West of England region. Loans taken out by BEC bring money in to the area, and we will ensure that the profits, are shared by our shareholders and local organisations through a community benefit fund. It is well known that smaller organisations generate more jobs per £1 of turnover, and employment and jobs within our city are important in a globalised world. BEC itself is creating green jobs.
It is also important to model different kinds of enterprises, ones where people co-operate and although it competes with other energy generators, the principles on which it runs are founded on mutual benefit and interest. As people become more and more aware of the disbenefits of globalisation, it is organisations such as Bristol Energy Cooperative that can model the future of other ways of organising resources: mutually owned; independent; and entrepreneurial.
And finally, the energy co-op is part of the movement towards creating a zero carbon city. At a recent round-table event we discussed what the barriers were to creating a zero carbon city. BEC brought together a mixture of people with an engineering, policy, industry and co-operative background to discuss progress and plans. The good news is that the building blocks are in place. One of the main issues that we talked about was the West of England and how the new Mayor and regional authority will have a huge role to play in our region’s future.
Please ask for zero carbon to be in the Council’s strategy for 2017-2022: by ticking some boxes in this consultation: https://bristol.citizenspace.com/bristol-city-council/corporate-strategy-2017-2022/consultation/subpage.2016-10-05.3791916015/
And that energy is included the West of England Spatial Plan: https://www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk/consult.ti/JSPEmergingSpatialStrategy/consultationHome (closing date 19th December!)