Young people help decide the low carbon future of Bath and North East Somerset

PlanLoCaL consultation event

5 January 2010

“It was such a positive, far sighted decision to have school children involved in the debate. They often have a much clearer view than adults. After all, in 2026 [when this strategy ends], the children I brought today will be 28 years old.”

As a junior school teacher, Jim Edmiston was in no doubt of the importance of an event organised by CSE in December to engage his pupils and other primary and secondary school children from around the Bath area in policy discussions which will have a direct impact on their future.

Held at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, the event helped young people from across the district improve their understanding of renewable energy and shape their views on the future of development in the area.

The event was part of a series of consultations to help residents of Bath and North East Somerset comment on the draft Core Strategy for their Local Development Framework (LDF), a set of documents encompassing the future of planning and development across the district.

Seven schools, including both primary and secondary, took part in the day which included talks from experts at CSE explaining the proposed targets for renewable energy in the area, the research underpinning these targets and the different technologies involved. There were also interactive activities for the pupils to take part in which helped shaped their knowledge.

The consultations are part of CSE’s PlanLoCaL project, which is aimed at engaging local communities and organisations at the earliest possible stage of an area’s development planning. (Visit the PlanLoCaL project page)

Rachel Coxcoon manages the PlanLoCaL project for CSE and ran the consultation event in December: “We got the pupils to look at renewable technologies and encouraged them to see what the potential for development was in their community.

“It was really interesting to see how their views changed. Initially there was a simple support for a very high renewable target, but the participants were quick to recognise and discuss the compromises that would be required to aim for a very high target, such as the potential impact on heritage and landscape. All in all they were very enthusiastic and we were able to get them thinking about the various realities and consequences, which should lead to more measured responses to the consultation.”

Feedback from the pupils was very positive with comments suggesting the event will lead to further involvement from those involved. The event also managed to appeal to different age groups, with one secondary school pupil saying: “I think the event was really useful and it was easy to contribute to discussions. I will fill in the other forms and contribute my ideas.” Another primary pupil said: “It wasn't too grown up and I understood all of it. I learnt a lot.”

Following the event, the pupils then went back to their schools and will disseminate the information gathered at the session through school councils, assemblies and newsletters. It is then hoped the schools will comment as one body on the LDF as well as children going back to parents, guardians and friends, and inviting them to comment as individuals.

Residents of Bath & North East Somerset can still comment on the Core Strategy, as the consultation has now been extended to Friday 15 January. Consultation documents can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/B-NES-Core-Options

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