Wind turbines, solar farms and the associated infrastructure often represent major changes in the local environment. Because of this local impact, it is important that the local community gets the opportunity to think about and/or participate in a project. Participation can occur in various forms.
For renewable energy projects in the Netherlands, a participation plan is often drawn up. The aim of a participation plan is to give the local community a good idea of how they can be involved in a sustainable energy project. Because such projects often cause a multitude of community responses, a participation plan is important. Moreover, a participation plan is highly valued by governments, and in some cases even mandatory. Many countries have legal requirements for participation plans. In other cases, such as the Netherlands, the trade associations for sun and wind energy have a code of conduct that includes the drafting of such a plan. Participation in the energy transition has become increasingly important in most European countries.
A good participation plan should include answers to the following questions:
- How is the community involved in the decision-making process of a sustainable initiative (process participation)?
- How, and to what extent, can local residents participate financially in the initiative (financial participation)?
Projects and their local communities are unique. This means that a participation plan must take into account the specific stakeholders and the characteristics of the local area
Involving the community is an important goal in any sustainable energy project. A participation plan answers the following questions relating to the participation in the planning process:
- What is the planning of the participation process? At which moments can the local community voice their opinions, what happens afterwards, etc.
- Who should participate in this process?
- What role and powers do the various parties have?
- What forms of participation process are used (from informing to providing input to decision making)?
Research has shown that the support for renewable energy projects increases when people benefit economically from a project. For large-scale spatial changes in the living environment, such as wind and solar farms, a good and fair balance of advantages and disadvantages can increase acceptance and a project’s support. There are several ways to allow the local community to participate financially in a project:
- Shares or bond loans
- Local ownership / a cooperative project
- Community fund
Pondera, in cooperation with our customers, is happy to actively contribute to the consultation with the community. We can also help you draw up the participation plan and/or help you manage the entire process.