Welcome to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)'s blog. The DECC YAP is a group of young people aged between 15 and 25 from all over the UK, with a wide-range of backgrounds, from academia to activism.

Our aim is to inform everyone and anyone about DECC's activities and likewise to help DECC understand and take into account the concerns of young people. We are a medium of consultancy and conversation. Much of our work looks at finding a 'Pathway to 2050', reviewing how energy with be supplied and used in the next four decades, so follow us and join us on the journey!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Butterfly Effect

On Wednesday 8th September Unkha and I woke up early to travel into Bristol to observe a local planning committee discuss, deliberate and (I imagined) have heated debate about a recently approved application to develop a Biofuels plant in the City.

Bristol, being a City on the River Severn, has an old dockyard site called Avonmouth Docks and on that site the Council has granted planing permission for the development of a Biofuels Plant, or more specifically 'construction of Biomass fuel store and biomass fired electricity generating plant' (see the webiste for more info on consent 09/00506/K).

The Biofuels Plant is being constructed by Helius Energy Plc, a London listed company, and on 8th September the Planning Committee were discussing an application for 'variation of consent.' This means that the developers (Helius) wanted to seek approval from the committee to extend the amount of material (biomass) that would reach the plant by the existing roads, rather than by the river and dockyard. The Planning Officer to the Bristol Planning Committee recommended that the consent be given to the developer, with some conditions attached to it, and ultimately the committee approved this 'variation of consent'.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Youth Panellists at 'Start Young: for a Sustainable Future' Event

Youth Panellist Tom Youngman (second from right) participating in a discussion led by fellow panellist and event facilitator Luke Hughes (obscured, left). (View original on Flickr)
Youth Panellist John Northall, one of the event's facilitators. (View original on Flickr)
IBM, in conjunction with Prince Charles' charity, 'Start', held the 'Start Summit' - a nine day program of events for leaders in business, finance and energy, as well for young people. The fifth day of the conference was entitled 'Start Young', and brought together ninety young people from across the country not only to hear from influential figures such as Stephen Leonard, Chairman of IBM UK and Ireland and James Caan, venture capitalist and star of the BBC's 'Dragon's Den', but to have their ideas listened to and raised in front of senior representatives from business and government on the final day of the summit. The event took place in luxurious surroundings at Lancaster House, twice the host of G7 summits and the location at which Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia)'s independence from the UK was agreed.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Panellists Visit Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynnleth

Our visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) began with a tour of the popular visitor centre. It focuses mostly on home solutions - so micro-generation was a key theme.

We looked at examples of solar arrays and were told about how they could be used in commerce. They can be inequitable, because the feed-in tariff for a £15k panel is equivalent to £1,000 a year, so it is a better investment than a savings account. It benefits the rich, contributing to the wealth gap, because only they can afford the initial capital investment.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Trains, Visits and Reports...

If there’s one thing that I’d like to gain from my participation in the DECC Youth Panel, it would have to be, for me, a finer understanding of how to catch trains successfully. Apparently, the machine which gives me my train tickets in Newcastle Central Station has a fickle mind, changing its rules on a whim, resulting in my having to purchase TWO return fares from Newcastle to London (which aren’t cheap).

I’m very glad I got that off my chest. However, despite the fact it bankrupted me, it was, of course, more than worth it to revel in the fun-filled shenanigans that comprised the Youth Panel meeting.

We started by being introduced to the rather dubiously named ‘Spreadsheet of Happiness’, an outline of the exciting site visits that are planned for the panel. We figure that it’s pretty important that we know what we’re talking about when we write a report outlining the young person’s vision of 2050, and so we hope that if we visit projects around the country that are already implementing skills and techniques that could play a part in that vision, the knowledge that we gain from these glimpses of the future may help us draw more substantiated conclusions.