In this post we breakdown this latest 52 page report, released in March 2021 by the Progressive Policy Thinktank (IPPR) on how communities can thrive in a climate changing world
This new report will strike a chord with and inspire community activists everywhere. The prestigious cross-party think tank has researched a wide range of locally-based projects that create direct climate benefits or impacts and concluded that - managed well, the transition to a greener economy offers the opportunity to reshape local areas in a way that improves health and wellbeing, tackles inequalities and improves quality of life.
They argue that communities must be given greater ownership, not just of the process of the green transition, but of the assets and benefits that arise from it; and that progress toward tackling the climate crisis and restoring nature can be accelerated if communities are empowered to participate in the transition to net-zero. It demonstrates – with examples, ways people are already coming together to create shared low carbon assets – renewable energy, district heating, housing, woodland and food cultivation, in order to improve their health, wellbeing, local neighbourhoods, reduce poverty and increase local control.
It finishes with some strong recommendations to Government to empower more communities to take similar action with legislation for community rights and a community right to own or manage. These new ‘climate commons’ should be supported through a new Thriving Places Fund and changes to planning laws to accelerate community owned projects.
There is lots in here for us to learn from (including some useful funding models) – and absolutely supports Planet Purbeck’s approach – Stronger Together!
Here are some selected examples from the report that we think are relevant to the Purbeck area:
BURNHAM AND WESTON ENERGY COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY (CIC): One of the UK’s largest community solar facilities, at 9.3MW, Burnham and Weston Energy was established by raising £4 million in a local bond offer. It is situated on a farm near Weston-Super-Mare and sheep continue to graze around the solar panels. The project, owned by local shareholders, is generating £1.2 million for the community over the 25 years of its lifetime. Burnham and Weston CIC manages the project, with a board of local people. During the Covid-19 lockdown the board created an emergency fund for local residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
FORDHALL FARM: The UK’s first community owned farm has been growing food without pesticides for 60 years and runs leisure and education initiatives for local residents.
SWAFFHAM PRIOR COMMUNITY LAND TRUST: Swaffham Prior CLT is moving a whole village from oil-heating to a renewable energy system. This rural village of 300 homes is dependent on very expensive oil heating that currently contributes to the climate crisis. The local land trust has secured planning permission for a district renewable heating system that will provide every home in the community with affordable renewable heating.
GWENT ENERGY COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY (CIC): Gwent Energy is a family-run community interest company (CIC) based in South Wales. Up to 2019, the organisation had supported over 30 local community groups to install solar PV, electric vehicle charging, and battery storage for community and domestic customers.
REPAIR CAFÉS: Repair cafés offer free meeting space, tools and materials to help people make repairs to items such as clothes, furniture and electrical appliances. There are approximately 147 repair cafés across the UK, with an increasing number popping up in specific locations, supported by a repair café network. 20 For example, in Derbyshire alone, there are six community-led repair cafés across the local authority area. The motivations for setting up or participating in a repair café comes as much from saving money as from saving the amount of waste going to landfill.
SLOWING THE FLOW AT PICKERING: In Pickering, Yorkshire, faced with the cost of funding a large concrete dam which was beyond the local authority budget, local residents came together to implement a series of nature based measures including ‘leaky dams’ and planting trees to slow and absorb flood water. This has successfully reduced the flood risk in Pickering from 25 per cent to 4 per cent.
LANGHOLM MOOR COMMUNITY BUYOUT: A community land buyout in Scotland successfully raised £3.8 million to purchase 5,000 acres of land from one of the largest landowners in Scotland, the Duke of Buccleuch. The community trust plans to turn the land, Langholm Moor, into a community-run nature reserve to address climate change. It will restore peatland and woodland, which will create carbon sinks and reduce carbon emission contributions from peatland erosion. In addition, the initiative plans to include small-scale renewable energy generation and support for community regeneration
The Big Local Programme, delivered by Local Trust, is a radically different model for funding communities, one that is resident-led, flexible and long term. The programme awards 150 local neighbourhoods across England £1.15 million each to spend over a period of 10 to 15 years. There is no typical model (generally cover around 8000 residents) – but they include market towns and rural areas such as Three Parishes in Shropshire, and remote coastal communities like Withernsea in Yorkshire.
Marsh and Micklefield Big Local, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, works with a community ranger to improve people’s connection to the local natural environment including woodlands and rivers, and has a particular focus on pollinators such as bees and other insects. The group is also involved in litter-picks and tree-planting and was the first Big Local partnership to declare a climate emergency.
North Cleethorpes Big Local, Lincolnshire, frequently organises clean-ups of the beaches and estuaries in the area and has created a cycle hub out of a redundant building near Cleethorpes train station, where people can park, hire and repair cycles.