Low Carbon Localism

Supporting communities in ensuring their neighbourhoods benefit from a low carbon future

Project duration: April 2011 to May 2013

Recent planning reforms and other moves by the Coalition government to devolve powers to local communities provide a unique opportunity to make sustainable development happen in our cities, towns and villages. The Localism Act introduces a raft of new measures, including neighbourhood plans and community rights, empowering people to decide for themselves how they want their areas to develop and local services to be run.

CSE’s Low Carbon Localism project is designed to help communities and local authorities seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to building flourishing, resilient local economies that are great places to live and work - while also contributing to the global fight against climate change. We’re doing this by building on our successful PlanLoCaL project to help local communities use their new powers to turn their sustainable energy ideas into reality – for example exploring the best options for improving energy efficiency and developing community renewables in their area, building local support and overcoming any barriers.

This project marries the empowering approach of PlanLoCaL with greater powers contained within the Localism Act.

Planning policy is a vital tool in determining whether local infrastructure helps or hinders the shift to a low carbon society and Neighbourhood Planning provides the framework for doing this at the community level. Involving local people in deciding how their area will contribute to tackling climate change and energy security helps ensure that low carbon developments are appropriate, supported and truly benefit their community.

CSE will pilot the low carbon approach to Neighbourhood Planning in at least two areas with active parish councils and neighbourhood forums, especially when there is a community energy group already active in the area. We also provide light-touch advice for interested groups outside of these pilot areas, especially those where we have had prior involvement.

The new PlanLoCaL pack

This project builds on CSE’s PlanLoCaL resource. We have produced a bespoke toolkit for Neighbourhood Planning including policy options, funding opportunities and case-studies for others to learn from, which you can download here. We developed this pack with the help of pilot areas’ groups, relevant government departments and organisations involved in providing wider planning support. The pack is being trialled at several events including two training workshops for neighbourhood planning groups and three councillor sessions.

The Localism Act also contains other community powers for Right to Build, Right to Buy and Right to Challenge. These new rights and the low-carbon opportunities they bring also also covered in the pack, hopefully growing the involvement of community groups in sustainable energy projects.

This work is supported and funded by CSE and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

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