New approach helps towns build on energy tradition

CSE works with towns to create ’renewable energy action area’

4 November 2010

The twin towns of Midsomer Norton and Radstock sit side-by-side on the edge of the Mendips, an area known locally as the Somer Valley. Historically, the town of Radstock is a mining area, though no coal has reached the surface since 1973. Now a new project is hoping to build a low carbon energy future on that carbon intensive energy tradition.

Under the umbrella of its PlanLoCaL project, CSE is planning to trial a process to help communities take a positive approach to low carbon development in their area and work out how they can best benefit from this transformation.

Working in partnership with the local authority (Bath & North East Somerset Council) and a wide range of interested community groups, the plan is for CSE to help the area develop a community-led planning approach which will see local people articulate and refine what they feel their area and their community represents. Through workshops and discussions, communities will explore how their immediate priorities – like housing and local jobs – are, or can be, effectively aligned with low carbon development.

The plan has emerged from CSE’s work on community-led low carbon planning with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and the partnership CSE has developed with communities in Bath, Cornwall and Cambridgeshire.

“We are helping the local communities to create and outline for themselves a distinct and dynamic image for their area,” says Rachel Coxcoon who is managing the project for CSE. “We’ll work with local residents and local groups to help them understand sustainability and low carbon technologies, and think through and define a plan that best suits them and their needs and secures the associated economic benefits. We will also help them to gain the confidence to influence local authority planning and economic development priorities to make sure the towns’ ambitions are reflected in official policies.

“A century ago, these towns were producing 1.25 million tonnes of coal a year. Now, through this process, we hope they can find a low carbon plan for building their 21st century wealth,” says Rachel. “And if the process works here, we think there are hundreds of other towns and villages across the UK with similar potential to realise.”

If you would like to find out more about the project, or get involved in any of the meetings, contact Rachel Coxcoon on 0117 9341426.

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