"Town planning is not mere place planning, nor even work planning. If it is to be successful it must be folk planning" - Sir Patrick Geddes
Sustainable communities are places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. They balance and integrate the social, economic and environmental components of their community in order to meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life.
They are safe and inclusive, well planned including smarter land use, well built and run and offer equality of opportunity and good services for all while preserving and enhancing its
biodiversity and landscape.
People also need public open space where they can relax and interact and the ability to have a say on the way their neighbourhood is run. Stirling's communities are diverse and local circumstances need to be reflected - there is no standard template to fit them all.
Stirling's Community Energy Forum
Stirling Council hosted the first Community Energy Forum, open to all community councils, community groups and all other community stakeholders with the aim of empowering and enabling communities to focus on community energy opportunities, with signposting and assistance and continuing support, and the wide-ranging benefits that these can bring directly to each individual community.
Benefits arising from income generated through these community energy projects would be specific to each community’s needs and can include grants for insulation to residents, upgrading of local community facilities, additional community facilities (such as additional parks/cycle pathways, etc.) and can also help alleviate fuel poverty across the region within communities.
Stirling Council is made of up many and varied communities – with large urban settlements combined with huge rural areas, the majority of which are off-gas grid and so lack fuel choice. One issue which all of these communities have in common is fuel poverty – an issue that the Council is particularly keen to help alleviate. We believe that a Community Energy Forum facilitated by Stirling Council in partnership with public sector partners presents a real opportunity to reflect the drivers and ambitions of local areas in energy system development using local knowledge and focusing on local needs specific within each community, using the Local Authority as the catalyst for facilitation and guidance - with Council assets being available for anchor loads/heat sources (and potential siting of infrastructure where feasible).
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” ― Helen Keller
Communities within the Stirling Council area have already implemented and benefited from community energy projects independently and it is these exemplar projects and the knowledge and experience gained by these communities that we would aim to build on and replicate. These include:
- Fintry Development Trust: who installed a wind turbine, the income from which is diverted into the local community and community projects
- Fintry Development Trust: following the success of the wind turbine, they went on to install a biomass district heating system at Balgair – a prestigious and ground-breaking project which provides affordable heat to 26 homes in Fintry (saving residents ~20% on energy costs)
- Callander Community Development Trust: who have installed a highly successful Community Hydro Scheme which generates hydro electric energy which is then sold to the grid, generating income which is then allocated for community projects and developments within Callander
Each stage was kept fairly short and informative to get the discussions flowing and let the communities determine the way this Community Energy Forum would take shape. The aim is then, at this and subsequent sessions, to build an FAQ section as well as signposting for assistance, including funding, all of which be made available on the Council website for all communities to be able to access as and when they are ready and with ongoing support being made available.
Presentations from the inaugural Community Energy Forum can be downloaded below:
Taking Projects Through to Delivery:
The Community Energy Forum is intended to inform community groups of opportunities and potential within their own communities where the Council and public sector parties can work together to get community energy projects, specific to individual community’s assets and resources , from feasibility to completion - building a working partnership to bring direct community benefits, including generated income streams, to communities across the Council area and enabling the communities to reap the benefits locally.
This collaborative partnership will enable the identification of energy opportunities throughout the Council area using local visions, where trusted local actors and the key drivers within the communities, i.e. the community council and community groups, can identify needs within their communities alongside potential opportunities and partnership working will enable the projects to be delivered.
We want your views because successful sustainability benefits you and your family, the communities in which you live and work and the lifestyle choices you make. Although we have set out actions in our aspiration for a Community Energy Forum, we would genuinely like to engage with all communities and stakeholders across the Council area to develop initiatives and be involved and assist in their delivery from the outset:
- What are the priority actions you would like to see to help the Community Energy Forum and subsequent community energy projects progress?
- What assistance can the Council or other public partners give?
- What topics would be useful for future Community Energy Forums?, e.g. Community Empowerment Act information, different technologies, further practical sessions
- Any other comments you would like to make?
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” ― Howard Zinn
Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act - The Community Empowerment Act will help to empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, and by strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them. It will also improve outcomes for communities by improving the process of community planning, ensuring that local service providers work together even more closely with communities to meet the needs of the people who use them
Energy Saving Trust - works in partnership with community organisations to provide help and support to individuals.
Local Energy Scotland - helping Scotland's communities and businesses benefit from renewable energy
The Council's aim is to help create: thriving, vibrant, sustainable communities that will improve everyone’s quality of life.