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UK Cities Should Generate Their Own Energy Says National Trust Energy Expert

British cities should generate their own energy instead of relying on rural areas to do so, said Patrick Begg, the National Trust's energy expert yesterday.

He was speaking on a panel discussion on the opening day of the Hay Festival of Green Ideas with Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive of Tidal Lagoon Power, and the Festival's Earth Director Andy Fryers.

He also called for the National Grid to be overhauled, tailoring energy supply to meet demand at different times of the day, and for all cities to follow the example of Freiburg in Germany, one of the world's greenest cities.

Freiberg market

Freiberg market

I repeated the same recommendation in the afternoon on a separate panel along with Jane Davidson, Wales' former Environment Minister and now director of INSPIRE at Trinity St David's University. We were discussing my book The One Planet Life, which takes Freiberg as one example of a sustainable city.

Freiberg

Freiburg generates much of its own energy, contains many eco-friendly homes and is designed to promote the use of public transport, cycling and walking, with car use discouraged. 

Freiberg

Photos taken from my book The One Planet Life.

"There is a divide between rural areas and cities. When I was in Germany I was wide-eyed and impressed by places like Freiburg, and how it generates all its own citizens' energy," said Begg. "I just don't see that thirst here to allow that in cities or to encourage people to do something – to encourage that responsibility to generate their own energy."

Jane Davidson who that morning had been chairing a separate conference panel on renewable energy and communities in Wales, independently reiterated the message, saying that in Wales, the new Well-Being of Future Generations Act – a world first – will compel local leaders to factor sustainability into all their planning decisions, in a measurable way.