As it looked like an interesting Cabinet meeting I decided to go along. The decision to provide Council land for Yorkshire Housing to build 35 houses in the Newsome Ward came up. The standard of build for these properties was Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3. A high standard but the minimum for new social housing developments and would not necessarily incorporate renewable energy such as solar photovoltaic panels. I had suggested when consulted as the local councillor that we might be able to have solar panels installed on the properties at no net cost by using the new Clean Energy Cashback to finance the capital costs. Officers chose to ignore this advice and it wasn't included in the report. Another good reason to attend the meeting.
Coincidentally today was the day that tariff rates were announced by the government and it looks increasingly likely that my suggestion would be possible. But it didn't stop there Councillor Shabir Pandor the Cabinet Member responsible for Housing was very, and repeatedly, insistent that it wouldn't be legal for a 'commercial' body like a Housing Association to take advantage of the tariff. Fortunately the Council Leader Cllr Mehboob Khan decided to take my advice and check it out and involve me in the decision for which I am most grateful. I've now sent them both the relevant section of the Government policy document that shows that Registered Social Landlords can indeed use the new 'feed in tariff'.
Last year the Green Party persuaded the Council to identify £5 million in the Councils Capital Plan for solar photovoltaic panels on the basis that the capital borrowing would be paid by the revenue costs of the panels. This looks like it will now happen and even more council buildings will have solar, our energy costs and carbon emissions will also be reduced. Exciting times indeed!