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Celebrating exceptional achievements in community energy

Peter Fox
By Peter Fox
15th November 2023

We are happy to announce that CPRE Derbyshire has been shortlisted for a Community Energy Award!

CPRE Derbyshire and CPRE Peak District and South Yorkshire (PDSY) have co-sponsored a Community Visioning project that has been recognised by Community Energy England.



The project is in response to the growing need for community-led renewable energy initiatives. The alternative planning approach acknowledges the importance of rural landscapes, providing space for local voices to be heard as a priority in pro-actively preparing for a future with renewable energy. We call it Community Energy Visioning.

We have been jointly nominated for our Bonsall Community Energy Visioning Project. This award nomination recognises the outstanding commitment of community energy organisations in England to build sustainable communities through inclusive, long-term, measurable, relevant, and sustainable community engagement.


Community Energy Visioning in Bonsall

In the village of Bonsall, Matlock, we conducted Community Energy Visioning which included three community workshops. Through running these workshops, we were able to converse with over forty people who shared their opinions and thoughts surrounding the future of Bonsall’s rural community.


Bonsall’s Visioning Process

During Bonsall’s first workshop, attendees discussed their connection to Bonsall and the countryside surrounding it. Residents identified areas in the local landscape that are well known and admired, as well as areas that they felt less positively about. There was also dialogue about parts of the countryside that were significant to them but had been lost due to landscape changes.

The second workshop examined issues following energy infrastructure and their opinions on pylons and wires around them. We considered how these infrastructures might change as we use more electricity and heat generated renewable energy in order to reduce carbon emissions.

For the final workshop, we used maps of the local landscape to specify locations for where the new renewables could be sited. A fourth meeting was held to consult more widely in the draft vision document and to take the process forward. Advice and support was given by a project officer from Derbyshire Dales Community Energy. The Bonsall Energy Group are linking in with Derbyshire Dales Community Energy Group, another CEE nominee, to help bring some of their projects to life.

The village of Bonsall have taken up our Energy Visioning Project and are now looking to turn elements of the vision into reality. They have registered Bonsall Energy Group as a community benefit society and they are looking at applying for some grants to fund some feasibility studies for renewable energy solutions.


The General Visioning Process Summary

The workshops will continue to follow a similar outline of exploring what is important to the residents and why, investigating the energy needs of the local community, the types of renewable energy that could be adopted and the possible locations for the renewable energy solutions.

After the workshops are complete, we write up the results into a vision document and work with local artists to produce authentic illustrations. These depict the future of the local landscape with the renewable energy schemes proposed.

Read Bonsall’s Community Vision and its outcome.


CPRE PDSY consultant, Andy Tickle tells us more about the aims of visioning; “Our process allows the local community to understand its energy needs and enables them to take important steps towards greener energy and allied CO2 reductions, by reducing energy demand and increasing the supply of local renewable energy sources. In doing so, we hope to give local communities a voice so that they can help improve and protect their local environment.”

The Community Energy Visioning projects were welcomed by residents, with locals in Bonsall commenting; “Credit for revitalising the lapsed Bonsall Energy Group must sit with the CPRE facilitator and volunteers. They offered structure and knowledge together with encouragement and enthusiasm and so enabled diverse personalities to conjure a unified vision to progress the work. The professionally produced report with its high quality visualisations is a most valuable asset to the village group. It stands as an ‘ambassador’ signalling excellence, ambition and commitment. Thanks are due to the CPRE team and the artist for their quality of work and commitment.”


The Community Energy Awards

The Community Energy Awards is an annual event that recognises outstanding achievements in community energy. This year’s prestigious ceremony, supported by Electricity North West, will take place at the Lowry Theatre in Manchester on Friday the 17th of November. The ceremony brings individuals, organisations and initiatives together that are making significant contributions to the advancement of sustainable and locally-driven energy solutions.