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Energising Europe’s planners: New European energy project springs into action

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Energising Europe’s planners: New European energy project springs into action

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Published by Nneka Opara for TCPA in Education and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government

Town Planning Associations (TPAs) from across the European Union will meet this week in London for the first time for the launch of a new IEE (Intelligent Energy Europe) funded project, SPECIAL (Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes). Led by the world’s oldest planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), there will be a launch event held in the Houses of Parliament tomorrow with Alan Whitehead MP, who is an avid supporter of renewable energy and Chair of PRASEG, the Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group.

The future of the UK’s energy market is undergoing one of the most uncertain times of a generation as it faces the challenges of limited capacity and security of supply. The UK must find ways of securing more energy and from less carbon intensive sources if it is to mitigate the impacts of climate change and meet the European Union’s targets to generate 20 percent of energy with renewables by 2020. Spatial planning and urban planners are instrumental to meeting this challenge. It is in this context that SPECIAL will seek to build the capacity of planners and other built environment professionals in delivering local renewable energy solutions over the next three years.

SPECIAL has 7 partner planning associations from across Europe in Sweden, Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Germany and Austria as well as the TCPA in the UK. Through exchanging best practice and experience, planning organisations in each member country will seek to build their own capacity and understanding before rolling out training to other ‘multiplier’ organisations in their own country. These will include over 35 organisations, representing thousands of ‘town planners’ in Europe, drawn from over 700 municipalities.

Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive, said:

“The TCPA is delighted to be leading on this new exciting and ambitious European project to build the capacity of not just our own organisation, but also our partners, in delivering local renewable energy projects.”

“In an era of budget cuts and energy insecurity, SPECIAL offers a unique opportunity to improve the skills and knowledge of planning professionals across the UK and Europe. One of the most distinctive and powerful elements of SPECIAL will be its outward focus, cascading training beyond its immediate partners throughout the profession.”

The ‘multiplier networks’ have been identified by each partner as key delivery organisations to access, train and influence town planners at the local level. They will be actively engaged with the development and piloting of the content and context of training programmes, based on the challenges and barriers faced by their constituent audiences. Over the course of the project the TCPA will be working with several UK ‘multiplier’ organisations, including the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), PUSH (Partnership for Urban South Hampshire), Sustainability East, CLASP and the Planning Advisory Service.

Diane Smith, TCPA European and Corporate Affairs Manager said:

“We are delighted to welcome our partners from across Europe to London at the beginning of this fantastic new European project. Spatial planning has a key role to play in creating urban environments that support less energy-intense lifestyles and communities. Spatial planning and urban planners are instrumental in developing energy strategies and actions plans, and the SPECIAL project has been set up to help bridge the gap between climate change /energy action planning and spatial and urban planning.”

“SPECIAL will help to deliver not just a more sustainable future, but also enable communities to reap the positive economic benefits that local energy projects can bring.“

The project will kick off Monday 22nd April with a week-long training event in London with partners and those from the energy industry across the UK. It will include study visits to some leading examples of UK renewable energy planning, including Nine Elms in Vauxhall, incorporating Battersea Power Station, and a visit to the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Milton Keynes as well as to Letchworth Garden City.  You can follow the SPECIAL action live on twitter at @eu_special #SPECIAL.

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