Project to explore how communities can benefit from energy decommissioning

As the UK replaces its old carbon-intensive energy infrastructure, a new study will explore the legacy of what is left behind, and how to support the communities that they are in.

It’s being led by Keele University researchers and aims to establish a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities such as coal plants.

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will bring together communities connected to three sites – Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke, Fawley Power station near Southampton, and West Burton Power station near Gainsborough.

Researchers say these three sites are the ‘past, present and future of decommissioning’, and each provides expertise and knowledge about the possibilities and pitfalls for community ownership of decommissioning processes and their outcomes.

Working alongside local stakeholders, the project will define a more genuine role for local people in what happens to twentieth-century energy infrastructure as the UK moves towards a net-zero economy.

The vision for the project is to allow local people to be involved in the decommissioning of facilities so that these sites, in which many have invested much of their lives, become places for their communities. The team will examine how techniques and knowledge from the arts and humanities can inform more genuine and successful community involvement.

The research will involve a series of workshops being held at each site over the next two years which will inform a policy paper to advise professionals, heritage organisations and politicians on what the new decommissioning process should look like.

Keele University historian Dr Ben Anderson will lead the project. He said: ‘It is a privilege to be the principal investigator on this AHRC-funded project. I’m excited to be working with some truly dynamic communities, art practitioners and academics to ensure that local people can take a leading role in decision-making when large industrial facilities are closed.’

Photo Credit – Keele University

Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

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