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Interview with Pete Roche
"I have been campaigning against nuclear power since 1975, and worked as an anti-nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace for 13 years until 2004, but still work mostly on nuclear issues as an independent consultant. After working on some very depressing reports for Greenpeace after 9/11 about the impact of an airplane crash on Sellafield I decided I needed to spend some time each week working on something a bit more positive."
What is the current situation with the project?
We will be launching soon, and hopefully issue a share offer in the summer.
How has the project affected you personally, your family and your community?
It has actually been quite a struggle to get something off the ground. In a previous incarnation as Edinburgh Community Energy Co-operative we first tried to get a CHP-District Heating Scheme off the ground and then tried to persuade community centres and churches to install solar panels. Neither got very far.
Who else is involved?
Unlike many community energy projects which are located in a small community various different people have been involved from across the City of Edinburgh, often with some kind of relevant expertise.
Are there any particular tactics you are using/ have used to move the project forward? Do you feel like you are making progress?
We have had to develop projects which fit in to a structure suitable for applying for funding according to what is available. We learnt a lot by inviting other co-operatives across the UK to come and speak to us.
Do you have the support of the local community?
We have the support of the managers of the buildings we will solarise and will build wider community buy-in when we launch.
What are you aiming to achieve / what is your vision for the future?
Naomi Klein puts it better than I can in her latest book “This Changes Everything”“…climate change represents a historic opportunity [we] have the chance to advance policies that dramatically improve lives, close the gap between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up. [We] can disperse power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it in the hands of the few …[and this] would leave us with both a more habitable climate than the one we are headed for and a far more just economy than the one we have right now”.
Do you have a view on the links between your initiative and climate change? Do you see a link to the UN “COP21” climate talks in Paris?
Paris is crucial, but I have two grandchildren. They have been talking for all of their lives and most of their mother’s. It’s time to act.
What do you hope/expect/fear for the future?
If we solarise 25 of the Council’s buildings – hopefully the other 600 will also get done later.
Do you have a message to other communities thinking about starting an urban community energy project?
There is a lot of help and experience out there now. You don’t have to feel like you are on your own.
If you have a message for Friends of the Earth supporters what would it be?
Find out the barriers in your local area and get them removed e.g. where I live it is shared ownership of house cavities and roof-space and too many private landlords preventing insulation and solarisation.
Is there anything Friends of the Earth supporters can do for you?
Help us promote the share offer.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’m a great believer in sharing experiences from around the UK to inspire others. For instance, two projects from my day job - www.microgenscotland.org.uk www.cumbrianenergyrevolution.org.uk www.edinburghsolar.coop