One of the objectives of the Wanstead Environmental Charter is for greater energy efficiency in the community.

This involves all the different groups covered by the charter - individuals, businesses, schools and the council - stepping up to address the issue.

There seems to a remarkable lack of uptake on sustainable energy sources in this area. Visit Norfolk, Suffolk, Sussex or Kent and see houses and fields covered with solar panels.

Travel along to Rainham or out to Rye and off the coast at Broadstairs to see wind turbines turning on a daily basis – producing non-polluting energy.

In Redbridge, a roof with solar panels is a relative rarity. Indeed, I heard one story at the Environmental Charter launch about how a local church had been forced to take panels off the roof of a hall after local complaints. The methodology of Noah’s ark in reverse. This was, though, a few years ago.

If climate disaster is to be averted there has to be a huge transformation to renewable energy. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground.

In this country, a good start was made about a decade ago, when the then Labour government brought in generous incentives in the form of feed in tariffs (FIT) to encourage people to become micro energy generators by having photovoltaic and solar panels put on their roofs. This encouraged many people to take the plunge. However, this subsidy has been whittled away and finally disappeared altogether last month.

Unfortunately, the actions of the present government in no way reflect the rhetoric that they spout. Whilst pronouncing how effective the UK has been at cutting emissions, the Government has turned positively hostile toward the sustainable energy industry. It stopped onshore wind turbines (one of the best and cheapest ways of generating energy), cut the FIT subsidy to solar panels and promoted fracking. A burgeoning renewables sector that was producing more and more jobs was effectively stopped in its tracks.

This approach has to be reversed.

A green deal of the type being promoted by progressive Democrats in the US is the way forward here too. Renewable energy will be key to this approach, with a ban on fossil fuels and the retrofit of old buildings. No new buildings should be being constructed that are not zero carbon efficient. Green roofs can also make a positive contribution.

In London, the Mayor has taken some steps, setting his target of the city becoming zero carbon by 2050. There have been a number of schemes, including the London Community Energy Fund and the Solar Together scheme.

One current scheme is Cleaner Heat Cashback, which encourages small and medium-sized enterprises with 30 to 40 per cent cashback to replace old, inefficient heating schemes with new energy efficient alternatives (see:

Energy efficiency is one of the big challenges facing us – particularly since we seem to be starting from a very low base mark in this area.

All parts of our community need to be looking at how we use energy and what better schemes can be deployed to operate in a cleaner, greener way.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See