Hampshire County Council are working in partnership to deliver community projects on climate change, have set up an expert forum to engage with community groups and launched residential projects that will support efforts in reducing Hampshire-wide carbon emissions.
The Hampshire 2050 Commission of Inquiry identified the changing climate as the biggest threat to the County, and the single most important driver of change.
Hampshire County Council declared a Climate Emergency in the summer of 2019 and a greener recovery from Covid-19 (in addition to being more inclusive and more resilient) is currently a key Member priority. The County Council set two ambitious targets for the county as a whole: to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to be resilient to the impacts of a 2C temperature rise.
Soon after Hampshire County Council established the Strategy and Action Plan. This includes the key principles of Hampshire County Council’s response and the key sectors where action will be needed.
Through this work it was shown that nearly 24% of Hampshire’s total carbon emissions come from domestic energy, and energy bills are a significant outgoing for most households.
One of the major gaps in Hampshire however is the limited amount of renewable energy generated in the County which is currently less than 3%. The opportunity to generate our own energy that is low carbon and local is significant, however, the path to viable, funded schemes is complicated and not that simple to navigate without extensive experience.
The County Council recognises that working together with organisations, local councils and communities across Hampshire will be vital to successfully reducing emissions and building resilience to the impacts of climate change.
As part of the wider climate change programme, the County Council has launched residential projects that will address and support efforts in reducing Hampshire-wide carbon emissions.
The Greening Campaign have been working together with Hampshire County Council, District, Parish, and Town Councils and other local organisations over the last 12 months. It offers a blueprint for stimulating grassroots community engagement, behaviour change, sustainability, and adaptation to climate change.
To date, the Greening Campaign has provided support and advice to 30 Hampshire communities, despite COVID-19, by offering simple actions at household level.
The Greening Campaign has a proven and sustainable approach which makes the community feel part of a bigger programme. Feedback from communities across Hampshire who are engaging with the first phase of the Greening Campaign has been overwhelmingly positive with demand for the extended Phase 2 approach.
Each phase of the Greening Campaign includes a large information Pack on engaging communities, how to get communities to act, how to supply information to communities about the challenges in a 'novel and inventive way', and also provides carbon savings achieved for each challenge and how to calculate the total carbon savings achieved by each community.
To develop a pathway to community energy in Hampshire, the Climate Change Team have developed a proposal with Community Energy South (CES).
The CES project provides the essential starting point for a county-wide community energy network to grow and develop in a self-sustaining and viable way. This project reacts to local needs and interest in achieving net zero and will deliver a bespoke ‘Kick-Start’ mentoring package to five frontrunner communities. It will assist them to take their community projects to the next stage ready for delivery through technical and feasibility process, project financing and financial feasibility, production of a business plan and the establishment of a legal entity. CES deliver monthly masterclasses for the wider community energy network sector.
The relationship between the Greening Campaign, Community Energy and local councils is critical to its success, and ensures the whole community is engaged and the work is integrated into formal decisions for each communities’ future. It is important that communities feel part of something that is being driven by their community leaders and that also offers a supportive and clear framework to work within.
The Greening Campaign brings specific and targeted expertise to support communities, helping them work through complex and challenging issues by breaking them down into simple and digestible steps.
Funding is sought to enable the Greening Campaign to develop tailored and expert support to the 3 pillars of Phase 2 activities: Retrofit, Rewilding, Health and Wellbeing. Each pillar will work with 10 of the communities already signed up for phase 2. The three pillars will broadly seek to develop and encompass:
Retrofit – with expert support from The Sustainability Centre.
This pillar is designed to bring the community together so that altering the home to reduce CO2 emissions and financial cost to the home-owner is recognised and normalised. This will support local knowledge of retrofitting within communities and the associated cost savings through group-buying schemes. 10 properties per community (100) will be retrofitted as examples.
Rewilding – with expert support from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.
This pillar will teach communities the importance of habitat for wildlife and how climate change is affecting that. It will help communities create wild spaces which provide important steppingstones in a nature recovery network for wildlife, and supply health and wellbeing benefits for people.
Health and Wellbeing – with expert support from a Public Health Consultant.
This pillar will raise awareness of the links between climate change and health and mental wellbeing and will help prepare communities so that they will become more resilient and less affected from health impacts by from climate change in the future.
The Greening Campaign is based upon proven methodologies that have worked because they focus on community needs and meet the communities “where they are”, helping them make their own choices to engage in this agenda and come together to deliver positive outcomes for themselves and their communities. Linking the communities to their local councils is critical so that all stakeholders can work together, and so individuals have the opportunity to understand the bigger local action taking place.
The hand holding element of the campaigns makes it resource intensive but is also the secret to their success. The innovation lies in allowing individuals and communities to be the decision-makers and take control of what they want to see happen in their homes and communities, whilst giving them the right support at the right time. The emphasis of the Greening Campaign is on enabling local communities to build their own self-sustainability capacity to achieve on-going, ground level emissions reductions and build resilience together.
For the County to reach carbon neutrality, local renewable energy will be essential, and it would also build energy resilience in Hampshire. The County Council will not be able to fill this gap on its own, it does not have the financial or technical resources to do so at the scale required. However, the County Council can support and enable renewable energy in Hampshire and one way of doing this is through supporting community energy.