page title icon The Local Area Energy Planning social process 

The Local Area Energy Planning (LAEP) methodology is growing in use at a local level to inform, shape and enable aspects of the transition of local energy systems.

The methodology:

  • focuses on utilising technical evidence to demonstrate opportunities for change in the local energy system;
  • assesses non-technical factors which need to be understood and addressed to enable change;
  • uses a social process which seeks to engage “appropriate stakeholders”; 
  • uses the technical evidence produced and manages vested interests to ensure the local area energy plan is viewed as an informed and legitimate representation of local intent relating to energy system decarbonisation;
  • seeks to deliver a credible and sustained approach to governance and delivery.

The social process of the LAEP highlights a range of stakeholders that should be involved in LAEP, including community organisations and (through other stakeholders) the general public. While the social process is well outlined, there is an opportunity to introduce CLEP to bolster its impact.

Data relating to energy in the home, movement and energy generation is analysed through the LAEP process, alongside other technical data more relevant at a borough level than a neighbourhood level. The data gathered and analysed during the technical analysis is directly related to the energy themes explored during the diagnose phase of CLEP. 

The two processes can complement each other in relation to data analysis and harvesting.

  • The CLEP process produces data which is gathered across the themes explored in LAEP, and the neighbourhood group themselves build their knowledge and understanding of the application of energy solutions across these themes within their neighbourhood.
  • The technical analysis phase of the LAEP could be very useful in generating and visualising data which could be used to get to know the neighbourhood and throughout the diagnose workshops. The CLEP process could even be aligned with the LAEP to build community buy-in to some of the interventions proposed within the neighbourhood.

There is also opportunity to utilise the CLEP approach as part of the LAEP.

  • A consultation with the neighbourhood group to gain their insight on proposed interventions which would affect their neighbourhood. A workshop where a series of options are presented to the group following the relevant energy theme workshop in diagnose is recommended.
  • Using the data gathered through the CLEP process to identify opportunities for community-led projects which correlate with the priority areas identified for specific energy initiatives in the LAEP.
  • Using the data gathered through the CLEP process to understand community priorities for energy transition, using this to target activity (e.g., which homes are a priority for retrofit).

Using the two processes will not mean that they deliver aligned outcomes. However, CLEP can provide deep contextual insight to the reality of how energy interventions can be delivered. For officers advancing recommendations following the LAEP, CLEP can also offer a realistic idea of which elements of the transition are supported by the community and where there are opportunities for alternative forms of local ownership within the locality’s decarbonised energy system.

See why Community-led Energy Planning is needed for more information about why it is important to create a more robust social process to build legitimacy for the energy transition in the eyes of local people.