Community-led Energy Planning (CLEP) generates a range of outputs and has the potential to deliver a variety of impacts.
Community knowledge and skills
Workshops delivered with the community help to build their knowledge and understanding of climate change, energy transition, and what this will mean for their lives. The way the sessions are delivered is as important as their content to help build understanding and confidence.
Organisations and groups undertaking a CLEP process are making an active choice to build capacity within their communities so that people who have been involved in the process can grow their knowledge and apply it. This creates a foundation for continued engagement within communities to enable them to be co-deliverers of local climate and energy transition action.
“I didn’t realise that us little people could make a difference.”Sholver group member
Moving from consumers to energy citizens
CLEP actively seeks to move local people from being only consumers of energy towards being active co-creators and beneficiaries of the new energy system, creating energy citizens. Over the next 10-20 years this level of involvement and understanding will be needed to implement the changes required to decarbonise our energy system, both through individual behaviour change and community-led solutions.
Generating, gathering and sharing data
The CLEP process creates opportunities to collect three key types of data that can help participants to understand key local issues, challenges and opportunities specific to their neighbourhood: spatial data, baseline mapping data and interpersonal community data. Simultaneously, the process enables the generation of data which can be used by local authorities and other relevant local stakeholders to inform the development of effective local climate strategies based on community insights.
Establishing local and community priorities
The CLEP approach can be used in tandem with other processes, such as Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP), to help set priorities for action, identify elements of transition which will have greater community buy-in and highlight opportunities for community-ownership of energy solutions. This approach can be tailored to explore pre-existing local climate action strategies in more detail, highlighting starting points for the energy transition which have meaningful public consent, and opportunities for the local ownership of energy solutions.
Community-Led Energy Action Plans
The CLEP approach results in the co-creation of a Community-Led Energy Action Plan, developed by a neighbourhood group and the programme delivery team. This plan directly relates to the themes addressed in processes like LAEP, and also outlines solutions identified and prioritised by local people in response to the issues and challenges in their area which relate to the energy transition. They can be used to communicate further with the community and to bring stakeholders to the table to advance actions as identified by the neighbourhood group.
The Oldham Energy Futures project produced two of these plans, one for each neighbourhood, which articulate the groups’ priorities and solutions to energy transition in their areas.
“What we have done over the last months gives us a baseline to work with the community”Westwood participant
Building community wealth
CLEP can enable community wealth building through the activation of the group in the workshop programme and the delivery of community action projects. Community wealth building outcomes of this process could, for example, include the creation of a community-owned energy company, the delivery of energy efficiency services at the neighbourhood level, campaigning for greater council action on a just transition, or enabling local people to access training and jobs connected to the local energy transition.
Find more information about what a community wealth building approach to the energy transition should look like in CLES and Carbon Co-op’s toolkit A just energy transition through community wealth building.
The community action projects emerging from Oldham Energy Futures are examples of community wealth building in action. These include the delivery of a new energy advice service to tackle the low energy efficiency performance of local homes in Westwood (addressing fuel vulnerability and poor housing) and establishing a campaign group to improve local walking infrastructure and boosting its use in Sholver. The two projects are examples of delivering a more plural economy and engaging people in the neighbourhood directly with how land and property can be used for social purposes.
What did you hope the programme would do for your neighbourhood?
“Galvanise a group to be ambitious for the area.”
“Create a greater sense of local ownership, improve the lives of those living here, and increase social cohesion and connection through collaborative actions and shared goals.”Sholver group members
“Provide an opportunity to invest into the local area, provide something which currently doesn’t exist and will be appreciated and valued by local people.”
“Improve the area for everyone, and show people how to make changes for a better environment, not just at home.”Westwood group members