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Powering the future: New European project to build UK planners' renweable energy skills

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Powering the future: New European project to build UK planners' renweable energy skills

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

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. 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.

It is in this context that leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is about to begin its most ambitious European project to date.  SPECIAL (Spatial Planning & Energy for Communities in All Landscapes) will seek to build the capacity of planners and other built environment professionals in delivering local renewable energy solutions over the next three years.

Funded by Intelligent Energy Europe, 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.

Kate Henderson, TCPA Chief Executive, said:

“The TCPA is delighted to be leading on this 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.”

“It is a testimony to the work the TCPA has been carrying out in Europe through previous European projects, such as the RegioStars Award winning project GRaBS (Green and Blue Infrastructure in Urban Areas and Eco-towns) and the LEAP (Leadership in Energy Action and Planning) project, that the Association has been successful in winning funding for SPECIAL.”

Through exchanging best practice and experience, planning organisations in each member country will seek to build their own capacity and understanding of delivering local renewable energy solutions before rolling out training to other ‘multiplier’ organisations. These will include over 35 organisations, representing thousands of ‘town planners’ in Europe, drawn from 735 municipalities.

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.

Diane Smith, TCPA European and Corporate Affairs Manager said:

“European projects such as SPECIAL, which focus on cascading knowledge and training throughout each partner’s networks, have a crucial role to play in helping the UK make the transition to a low carbon economy.”

 “In an era of local authority budget cuts and energy insecurity, it is more important than ever that we seek to up-skill our planners and professionals to deliver not just a more sustainable future, but also reap the positive economic benefits that local energy projects can bring.“

The project will kick off this April with a week-long training event in London with partners and those from the energy industry across the UK. 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.

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