Future Energy Landscapes
Want to know how to inspire your community?
We often run training on our Future Energy Landscapes (FEL) approach. Be the first to hear about upcoming sessions by registering.
We know we need to increase renewable energy capacity (to about four times its current level) to address the climate crisis. But how can we do this while maintaining public support?
We also know that public support for renewable energy is at an all-time high, yet why does this support often disappear the moment a planning application is submitted?
Research suggests the following reasons:
- Communities feel decisions are being made remotely from them, and they are not sufficiently involved in the pros and cons of the different options available.
- People’s emotional attachment to their place and feelings for their local landscape are not taken into account in policy formulation.
- Communities don’t benefit enough from hosting renewable energy projects within their area.
- The UK planning system is a largely adversarial process. For most people and communities, the point at which they become involved in any meaningful sense is when a planning application is submitted and they feel under threat.
In other words, most people understand the need to scale up renewable energy to phase out fossil fuels. But at the same time they have legitimate expectations that they should be able to meaningfully influence how, where and what renewable energy projects will happen within their communities and landscapes.
These expectations are not being fulfilled by current community engagement approaches. More nuanced public engagement processes are vital if we’re to roll out renewable energy at scale.
The workshops give the council and councillors confidence that local support for renewables matches national public opinion. Policy needs to be – and can be – bold.Michaela Basford, Team Manager for the Green Transformation Service at Bath & North East Somerset council
Watch a recent recording of one of our workshops…
Future Energy Landscapes open toolkit
CSE has refined and is rolling out bottom-up approach to community engagement, called Future Energy Landscapes (FEL). The approach is effective in supporting local planning authorities to develop ambitious planning policies for renewable deployment in their areas, while maintaining community support. See our blog here on a typical recent experience.
Marchelle lives in Wellow and took part in the workshop. Here is what she said about it:
A Future Energy Landscapes (FEL) toolkit has been published by CSE as an open source and free-to-use methodology for local planning authorities, parish councils and community energy groups.
Based on our practical experience of delivering FEL workshops in eight different locations – both on behalf of neighbourhood planning groups and local planning authorities – the toolkit can be used for:
- Local Plan policy making, alongside provision of technical evidence like renewable energy capacity and landscape sensitivity studies.
- Neighbourhood Plan making.
- Development of community energy projects.
All the resources and guidance to enable you to run your own workshops and consultations are available below. These include:
- What the methodology is, and when and where it can be used.
- How to use it to engage a community or geographic area in the Future Energy Landscapes process.
- The technical resources required for a workshop (renewable technology cards and power output calculation tool) plus a guide to workshop facilitation.
- Sample communication materials.
The main FEL guidance document provides an overview of what the Future Energy Landscapes approach is and how to use it.
Download the toolkit
Plus here are four accompanying resource packs: facilitation pack; promotion pack, CESAR tool pack (basic version); CESAR tool pack (advanced version for community energy and neighbourhood planning groups). You can access and download all four here. This is a zipped folder containing multiple folders and files.
One of the files contains links to the CESAR videos which you can also access using the links below:
|Film 1: Generating electricity from renewables sources||Click to download|
|Film 2: Generating heat from renewable sources||Click to download|
|Film 3: Generating heat and electricity from the same source||Click to download|
|Film 4: Energy saving||Click to download|
The essence of our approach is that we set the community the challenge to meet more of their energy demand from local renewable sources. We provide unbiased resources so people learn about the issues, and sufficient time and autonomy to consider the pros and cons of different options. And we support them in developing a shared understanding around what would be acceptable in their community.
When the issue of renewable energy is approached in this way, ambitious community scale energy plans can be developed. And because the workshop participants have gone through this thought process themselves, they own the outputs and are more likely to support local plans or policies based on them.
The project is funded by the MCS Charitable Foundation, with match funding from North Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset councils.
The findings from our North Somerset workshops are available in our report here.
The findings from our Bath & North East Somerset workshops are available in our report here.
In each workshop, participants supported more renewable energy in their area. This confirms that even in sensitive landscapes such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belt, people are open to discussing all forms of renewable energy. The report lays out what renewable energy options participants would regard as acceptable in the future, and includes policy recommendations for North Somerset Council based on suggestions that have local support.
Please get in touch to receive free training and updates on this approach or for a quotation.
For planning advice and assistance to draft a low carbon neighbourhood plan for your community, please contact us for a quotation.