Keele University – Low Carbon Energy Project
In a bid to de-carbonise its energy usage, Keele University set out on an ambitious programme to deliver a clean energy generation project within its campus grounds. The Staffordshire-based University were proposing a development of solar power with battery storage and two medium-sized wind turbines. The University’s estates team enlisted the assistance of Influential to deliver community consultation, political engagement and media relations.
Influential set about implementing a two-stage pre-application community consultation exercise to cover the two separate planning applications the Low Carbon Energy Project would require.
At the heart of the plans was to treat people with respect, communicate openly and in a timely fashion. On-shore wind energy is the only non-NSIP development type where public consultation is a statutory requirement. This meant the publicity and delivery of the consultation needed to be 100 per cent water tight.
The consultation stages were built first around the principles of development, followed by the details at the second stage. Publicity was generated via a project website, targeted media relations and door-drop promotional material send to residences and commercial addresses in the locality.
A total of three exhibitions were held with each stage following the agreed choreography of ensuring key stakeholders being informed in advance of the public exhibitions. The third and final exhibition was to communicate the final proposed scheme which was being taken forward.
In producing the Statement of Community Involvement we captured the thoughts and views recorded at the exhibitions where we received almost unanimous support for the proposals.
We also demonstrated clearly how those views had helped to shape the application as it progressed.
The applications were submitted to the local planning authority for consideration without slippage to the programme agreed many months before.