Skip to content

A community energy vision for Bonsall

Peter Fox
By Peter Fox
4th March 2023

CPRE works with a Derbyshire village to help the community to set out where and how small scale renewable energy could be sited within the local landscape.

In 2022 we teamed up with CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire (PDSY) to access national funding for a Community Energy Visioning process in a Derbyshire community.  The funding came from national CPRE in partnership with the MCS Charitable Foundation.  The money paid for three community workshops, facilitated by Andy Tickle of CPRE PDSY and supported by volunteers from CPRE Derbyshire and PDSY, and for the production of an illustrated final report.

Bonsall was chosen, as the parish straddles the boundary between the Peak District National Park and Derbyshire Dales and has an enthusiastic core of residents keen to promote action to combat and mitigate climate change.


Renewable energy developments

We know that achieving net-zero carbon emissions will mean a huge number of new renewable energy developments, many of which will be situated in rural areas. The need for rapid action must not be at the expense of our precious landscapes. For new renewables in the countryside to be done well, local people must be better involved in the decision-making process.



The workshops attracted around 30 Bonsall residents in total, who, with our help, set about listing all the things they liked about their village and the surrounding countryside, and some negatives, too.  This set the context for considering how local renewable installations might impact on the parish and how people might view them.



The second workshop then covered in detail the energy needs of the village and how this might change in the future.   Residents then went on to pinpoint potential locations for small-scale installations, including wind turbines, solar arrays and hydro power, and to discuss how such changes might impact the local area and how they might be viewed by the wider community.



The final piece of the jigsaw was an analysis of how much of Bonsall’s energy needs could be met by the renewable installations brainstormed in the workshops, if they were able to be delivered in the future. In total, energy efficiency measures and local heat generation (via heat pumps), together with taking up all the renewable energy supply options from the workshops would cut current CO2 emissions by a third, Andy Tickle’s analysis showed.

A full report on the outcome of the project, illustrated by local artist Christine Gregory, can be read here.


Next steps

Taking forward the ideas from the workshops is the next task.  Not all of the ideas will be able to be implemented, much depends on access to funding, permissions of landowners, and the views of the wider community about the acceptability of some of the ideas.  Wind turbines in particular proved more divisive than well-hidden solar arrays, for example. But the local group is keen to take things forward and has already held follow-up meetings to map a strategy for the future.  More information is available on their website , which will be updated as their work progresses.

CPRE Derbyshire will continue to engage with the group and lend our support to seeing the community energy vision for Bonsall becoming a reality.