The many social benefits of community energy. But what are they and how do you measure them?

Social impact report on the National Trust and Anafon Hydro

Social impact report on the National Trust and Anafon Hydro

Report Link

In 2012 we were approach by Mark Walton who had started on his Clore Social leadership fellowship to develop a social impact study. Following discussions across the NT and locally we worked with Mark and looked at what are the social benefits beyond money  for locally owned community energy and also what the National Trusts role could be but also the challenges to this role. The research focused on the Anafon Community hydro project where we are still working with the Abergwyngregyn community.  (Background) It became obvious very early that this is a little looked at social impact area. Lots and lots on the cash aspect but not on what the overall driver for community energy could bring to a community. His report is now available. Link to Marks blog. we all know that it could be positive but in what way and how could it be measured beyond the economic?

…and what of the NT. Mark identified that our role could be –

“The National Trust is well placed to support community renewable projects. At a local level this might include providing access to land and signposting useful sources of support and funding. They can also use their own experience of installing renewables to help communities navigate the complexities of the process and lend credibility to projects they partner with. ” … but also recognises the legal, financial, resource challenges the charity faces in this area

Full report

This has prompted an internal debate in terms of our role in community energy in the NT? Primarily the NT is here to look after special places for ever for everyone and personally I don’t see a divergence in both work streams as they complement each other if well planned and thought out. We are now supporting, mentoring or even simply peer reviewing quite a few decent scale projects across Wales. But for me this community work is as much a learning exercise as a practical ‘doing job’ (what don’t we know, what have we to offer and  how it complements or add value to our core conservation work) Much more on this as we learn and develop. Interesting times!

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