5 December 2014
St Albans Council is set to be earning money, and reducing its carbon footprint, from European-style solar car parks, thanks to a budget amendment from the Green Party.
Green councillor Simon Grover had a successful night at St Albans Council yesterday, during the setting of the annual budget. With the help of the other opposition parties, his budget amendment passed with a majority of one.
The amendment included two items:
- £200,000 investment in solar PV units for council-owned open air car parks
- £5,500 for a web-based budget simulator, which lets residents understand and get more involved in the budget-setting process
The solar PV units would be mounted on multiple freestanding carport units, so cars park underneath for shelter and the sloping roofs have panels on top. The Council gets electricity and an income stream from the feed-in tariff, just like normal PV. Depending on the funding route, the scheme could pay for itself in just a few years. These units are common in the rest of Europe and the US, but almost unknown so far in this country. Simon said: "I am not aware of any other UK council car parks that use these, though there will be privately-run ones."
Many other councils have budget simulators, including Brighton, which is run by a Green administration. Cllr Grover described the software as "a good low-cost way of increasing democratic participation". The measure will be paid for by reducing the maximum time people can get a Council Tax discount for homes that have major work done from 12 months to 6.
Both spending measures are subject to all the usual planning and costing checks, but work should start on both next year.
Since 2011, the Greens have negotiated over 20 separate measures through budget amendments. The total they've secured for renewable energy and energy saving measures is now £1m.