The UK government is proposing to pass an Energy Bill to:
Allow local people to have a greater say on new onshore windfarm applications
End public subsidies for onshore wind
Continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas (read the DECC summary)
I want to ensure this goes through Parliament with the scrutiny of an independent organisation - Full Fact, an independent and widely respected non-partisan charity.
I’m Alison Hood, one of the 19,000 people who work in the onshore wind sector, but have recently been made redundant as a direct impact of this - so I want to make sure that the Energy Bill is being delivered for valid reasons.
The proposed Bill will destroy almost all new onshore wind farms. In fact, its impacts are already being felt. Since the Government announcement in June more than 270MW of projects have been scrapped, and people like me are losing their jobs across the industry.
The Government say this action is necessary to cut costs to consumers and won’t impact on our climate change obligations - but several experts and commentators are saying the opposite. WHO IS RIGHT?
Lots of claims are being made on both sides of the debate, and we’re missing a level of scrutiny required to ensure that all parties use facts and statistics with integrity as the legislation goes through Parliament.
This isn’t about whether you like wind farms, or which political party you support. This is about holding politicians to account as they bring in a new piece of legislation which changes how we generate our electricity, and how we will all pay for it in the long run.
This Bill will pass relatively quickly through Parliament, coming into law early next year. The timetable is available here. It’s currently at the House of Lords stage and will resume after the summer recess, moving to the House of Commons before becoming law. I’ve had advice on when the biggest opportunities are to check the facts again, and I’ve planned 3 stages of work with Full Fact that works around this.
The Funding - what will it go to?
It’s an ambitious project, and there isn’t much time. This call is to fundraise for Stage I so we can get started as soon as possible – any leftover funding will go into Stage II and III (we'll have a better idea of budget after Stage I).
Stage I (now – 7 September):
I will work with Full Fact to select statements already made to fact check claims. Two examples are below, but claims on all sides of the debate will be open to checking:
“Consumer bills will not rise because of this change.”
Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. 22 June 2015
“We do not accept that we have missed it [UK’s interim EU 2020 target for renewable energy generation]. Our interim reporting covers the period to the end of 2015, and we believe that we are on track to meet that target.”
Andrea Leadsome, Minister for Energy and Climate Change. 25 June 2015
Stage II (September – October)
Full Fact will independently fact check selected claims by politicians, members of the House of Lords and the media as the Energy Bill goes through the House of Lords. It probably won't be possible to fact check everything, but I'll work with Full Fact to ensure we get as many of the project aims achieved.
Stage III (November – January)
As the Energy Bill goes through the House of Commons, Full Fact will continue to fact check selected claims by politicians and the media.
"Full Fact is poised and ready to begin factchecking the energy bill. We are keen to ensure that public debate - including that which influences law- and policymaking - is rooted in reality. We are non-partisan and independent of both media and government so are well placed to factcheck this debate fairly and thoroughly as soon as Parliament comes back in September."
Mevan Babakar, Full Fact
Why Full Fact?
They are an independent and non-partisan charity (registered charity no 1158683) who check claims made by politicians and the media. They are funded mainly by charitable trusts and have a cross-party board of trustees. They do not take funding from the Government. Full Fact don't tell you what to think: they provide a short cut to making up your own mind by providing sources, explanation and context to the claim. Staff declare any personal interests to ensure there is no political bias and political activity is restricted while they work for Full Fact.
What will Full Fact do?
They will not only fact check – but also do something about incorrect claims. When false claims get repeated a lot they can do real damage. Full Fact have previously secured corrections from Ministers, government departments, MPs, the BBC, pressure groups and national newspapers. They don’t dumb down or reduce everything to meaningless soundbites. They look at every side of the debate so you can make up your own mind, using information you can trace.
Full Fact have over 30,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 10,000 on Facebook, who will also be seeing the research as it is published. They have a wide media contact database, meaning they can not only ask for corrections, but also know which journalists might want to cover one of their fact checks.
What will I do?
If we meet our target, I will update this blog dedicated to fact checking the Energy Bill - people can contact me with claims relating to the Energy Bill that could do with a fact check. I will ensure each MP in Westminster is aware of each piece of research as it goes through Parliament, and publish any responses on the blog - same goes for relevant members of the House of Lords.
Having worked in the renewable sector for over 8 years, it's not hard to guess that I'd prefer Full Fact to find holes in the claims made by Government and certain newspapers that I don't need to list here. However, I'm determined that all claims are thoroughly researched and clear evidence is provided for everyone to see, regardless of whether or not I like the findings.
What can you do?
As well as donating a few pounds you can use your own social media networks to spread the call to fundraise. If the funding target is met, we need lots of people spreading news of Full Fact's research.
Please give anything you can to fund the vital work of Full Fact on this project.
100% of the money raised will go towards funding the research and getting corrections.
We must insist that energy legislation and its consequences are based on facts!