Having a group of residents who understand and care about how energy transition is implemented at the neighbourhood level can be a huge asset to councils seeking to deliver a just transition.
To understand what local people want and need in relation to the energy transition, it is wise to:
- ensure local people know about and understand energy transition and what it could mean for them;
- listen to what they think would work for their area; and
- work with them to make it happen.
Community-led energy action planning can prepare a group of people to discuss the issues that matter to them in relation to climate change with relevant stakeholders in an area. Connecting this group to council services can create the foundation for the two to collaborate on the climate agenda more broadly. Implementing this approach across a locality would create a pool of people who can discuss the energy transition with the council and other stakeholders, and who are invested in community-led approaches to the energy transition.
Beyond the Oldham Energy Futures project, the council is considering how it can use the CLEP approach to develop a point of contact for energy transition in each neighbourhood. These points of contact, alongside support from an expert organisation engaged in the energy agenda, such as Carbon Co-op, will enable council officers to create a forum where they can discuss how to deliver the energy transition in Oldham with the community.
This forum could be bolstered either by the appointment of a dedicated officer, or by upskilling existing neighbourhood officers, with a responsibility to support the translation of the community’s priorities and solutions into action. Ensuring there is informed resource in community engagement team would also help to advance this agenda by making the connections to other departments in the council, unlocking barriers to the changes needed (such as engaging with planning, transport, housing or business engagement teams).
This is why incorporating funding to boost internal capacity is important. Unlocking resource within the local authority to support the neighbourhood groups after the CLEP process has finished will be crucial to advance the solutions the community want to lead.