HOW TO START A COMMUNITY ENERGY PROJECT: TOOLKIT FOR PARISH COUNCILS
A QUICK INTRO...
Climate change is the defining crisis of our time, and it is happening faster than we feared. But we are not powerless. In October 2019, our village declared a climate emergency and founded a community group, Sustainable Overton. One year after taking that collective decision, we’re sharing what we have learned about community energy.
This is a practical toolkit to help other Parish and Town Councils or community groups and local authorities (Borough, City and County Councils) work together to harness the power of local energy. We have put it together with kind support from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and teamed up with Community Energy South to bring you some key resources. We hope that by sharing our learning over the last year, we can help other Parish Councils or Community Groups progress more easily and effectively. We hope that above all, you will feel empowered. If we can do it, you can too.
The beauty of a community energy project is that it is something that will make a big, positive difference, and will have tangible benefits not just in terms of cohesion and spirit, but in providing cheaper, local energy. The community will be able to own it via shares, and a community fund can support local energy schemes, such as tackling fuel poverty. It brings the stakeholders (such as a farmer, landowner, or business owner) together with the residents. Everyone benefits.
Setting up Sustainable Overton, and progressing our community energy project, has unearthed many passionate, dedicated, and talented individuals in our village. It has given us a real sense of belonging, of a community on a mission. It has strengthened us in the face of adversity.
For background, Overton is a village of nearly 5,000 residents, situated 9 miles west of Basingstoke in Hampshire. We have an old village centre, around which numerous new houses have been built with many listed buildings and a conservation area. We also have a train station, many commuters to London, a vibrant high street, several farms and some industrial units, as well as a large factory unit in the shape of Portals Papermill, formerly De La Rue.
If you wish to find out more about how we set up Sustainable Overton we have another toolkit here.
HOW TO USE THE TOOLKIT
We have designed items under key headlines to enable people to quickly find the information they need. We have highlighted the lessons we have learned along the way, so that other groups can learn from this and avoid pitfalls, and ideally progress more quickly and smoothly. If you’ve used this toolkit please tell us! We would love to have your feedback.
“NEVER DOUBT THAT A SMALL GROUP OF THOUGHTFUL, COMMITTED CITIZENS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD: INDEED, IT’S THE ONLY THING THAT EVER HAS.”
MARGARET MEAD, ANTHROPOLOGIST, RECIPIENT OF THE PLANETARY CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD IN 1978.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has declared a Climate Emergency with a target to reduce emissions across the borough to net zero carbon by 2030.
Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement, CLLR Hayley Eachus said:
AS A BOROUGH COUNCIL WE ARE WORKING HARD TO REDUCE OUR CARBON EMISSIONS, BUT IT IS IMPORTANT WE SUPPORT AND WORK WITH PARISH AND TOWN COUNCILS, ORGANISATIONS AND BUSINESSES SO THAT
COLLECTIVELY WE CAN ACHIEVE THE AMBITIOUS TARGETS SET THROUGH OUT CLIMATE EMERGENCY DECLARATION LAST YEAR. WE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD ON THIS PARTNERSHIP WORK AS WE DEVELOP OUR LONG-TERM PLAN TO ACHIEVE A CARBON NEUTRAL BOROUGH BY 2030.
The Council is delighted that Overton is making such good progress with their local actions and that they have offered to produce this toolkit for other local councils to follow. The willingness to share their successes and to highlight barriers and obstacles is testimony to the way town and parish councils are open to working in a collaborative and supportive way across the Basingstoke and Deane Borough to tackle climate change.