Meadows residents signing up for the community energy scheme (Photograph by Travis O’Doherty)
The importance of community engagement cannot be underestimated. A cohesive community benefits individuals and organisations, empowering citizens to become involved in shaping their community.
The benefits of ‘bottom-up’ community engagement are widely publicised. Putting it into practice, however, requires a great deal of time and effort.
The Meadows community in Nottingham is an excellent example of a cohesive community. The Meadows is a mostly residential community located in close proximity to Nottingham city centre, the rail station, nearby green spaces and the River Trent. The Meadows Community Energy Group, MOZES, has been in operation since 2003. MOZES wants the Meadows to become a place for experimentation and innovation in sustainable energy. The importance of a community champion is not to be underestimated: Professor Julian Marsh, who is an Architect and Chair of MOZES, has been instrumental in building a high level of trust within the community.
A Meadows community engagement event took place on the 20th of July in the Portland centre, Nottingham. This engagement event introduced the SENSIBLE project, which aims to address issues relating to energy storage both thermal and electrical in communities. Funding has been secured from the EU for the installation of both thermal and electrical energy storage in the Meadows. The idea behind the project is that the community uses as much of its own energy and imports as little energy as possible.
Presentations were given by Professor Julian Marsh, Professor Mark Gillott (University of Nottingham) and Dr Lucelia Rodrigues (University of Nottingham). Presentations were followed by an engaging questions and answers session. The attendees provided excellent feedback regarding the project. At the meeting the community had the option of signing up for the SENSIBLE project, as a result there are now 57 members of the local community interested in participating in the energy storage project. Overall the meeting was a huge success and feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive.
This work will follow up on the first TURAS findings and the investment in infrastructure will allow for further investigation on the barriers and opportunities to increasing social resilience through community based energy schemes, as part of TURAS work package 3. To find out more you can follow Project SENSIBLE on Facebook and Twitter @SENSIBLEProject.