Community energy has an important role to play in increasing domestic low-carbon energy generation and in encouraging reduced energy demand, bringing financial and environmental benefits to local neighbourhoods. The recently published Community Energy Strategy Update from the Department of Energy and Climate Change set out a number of actions to support local authority planners to deliver community energy. However, the general level of awareness of the link between spatial planning and community renewable energy deployment remains low. Planners, communities and politicians are all key players in the planning process, and the planning process is a key gateway through which community renewables projects need to pass.
The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) with support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change will today deliver the first of two seminars on bringing forward community renewable energy and heat networks through the planning system. Featuring speakers from across the public, private and third sectors, the events which are primarily targeted at local authority planners, elected members, and officers will offer attendees the opportunity to gain further insight and information of where the opportunities are for community renewable energy projects
Diane Smith, Head of European Affairs at the TCPA said:
“The threat of climate change is very real, and communities across the world are already feeling the impacts. Developing low carbon, positive renewable energy solutions is vital to both the social and economic wellbeing of our society. Planning and planners are instrumental in meeting this challenge and bringing forward community renewable energy projects. We must explore ways in which local authorities and communities can work together to reap the positive economic benefits that local renewable energy project can offer by actively supporting community-led projects through the planning process.”
Michael Chang, Project and Policy Manager at the TCPA said:
“We have a responsibility to take action on climate change and councils are vital in helping us to meet energy needs from community led energy initiatives. We must therefore ensure that local authority planners and decision makers are equipped with the relevant skills, knowledge and resources necessary to support communities as they strive to bring forward energy projects through the planning system.”
The seminar will be held as part of the TCPA’s IEE (Intelligent Energy Europe) funded SPECIAL project, a pan-European partnership focusing on spatial planning for the deployment of local energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.
SPECIAL which was launched in 2013 is a partnership of eight Town Planning Associations (TPAs) across Europe in the UK, Sweden, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Germany and Austria, and aims to build the capacity of municipalities to integrate spatial and energy planning policies to help deliver the low carbon communities of the future; and to retrofit existing communities with more efficient energy.