Over the next few weeks we’ll be involved in holding two workshops on behalf of Sustainability East, introducing the Renewable Infrastructure Framework – one in Hertfordshire on the 20th of June and another, for Suffolk and Norfolk on the 21st of June.
(Follow the link, above, to see what’s happening on the day and read this post to learn more about our invovlement. This post is about the background to these events.)
Called the RIF, for short, it’s a process that leads to an agreed approach for the development of renewable energy generation. Perhaps the best way of explaining that is to quickly give you an introduction to how it came about…
It started with a CRIF…
The first ‘RIF’ was the Cambridgeshire Renewable Infrastructure Framework that set out to identify how the county could develop its renewable infrastructure in line with the obligations set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 (which includes a legally binding target of at least an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050). The CRIF was funded by Sustainability East on behalf of Improvement East as part of the Climate Change Skills Fund.
These was a obviously a tough challenge – and Sustainability East as well as Cambridgeshire Horizons, which led the project before it was taken over by Cambridgeshire County Council, felt it needed to be addressed at a county level.
What the RIF included:-
Setting a baseline – establishing how much renewable energy has already been developed.
Identifying the potential for renewable energy generation.
Communicating this and coming up with scenarios – and an understanding of what it would take to meet these obligations.
Coming to a position, agreed by a wide range of stakeholders, and published as the framework document.
Learning from the RIF…
The CRIF is now finished, but because of the way it was funded the learning from the project must be shared. It’s all already been written up on the Sustainability East website – so that other areas can learn from the process and perhaps engage in similar projects – but the next stage is the two workshops this month. Here’s Sustainability East’s executive director, David Webb, explaining the thinking…
As you can imagine from the list of of what the RIF included, this process is enormously challenging – and required a good deal of effort (and, resultant in that, a great deal of learning). There was a technical side – handled by consultants Verco, formerly known as Camco – but the goals of the project also needed to be communicated, sensitivities handled and disparate views and voices involved in a highly politicised process brought together.
Much of this was achieved by introducing to CRIF an open, collaborative process. Catherine has already written about this – as have I, but it’s interesting to see Alex Plant – now director of environment, transport and economy at Cambridgeshire County Council and formerly the chief executive of Cambridgeshire Horizons – relfect on this.
Clearly, the key with the CRIF was to see how everyone – not just those making decisions could be part of the process. As Alex reflects, that was an inspiring and refreshing process that made the CRIF better. It chimes with some of Catherine’s thinking on the shifting role for government in a networked world. As she points out in this post, about the work of Jim Diers, this is about as he puts it making the public into citizens, not taxpayers – and involves radically changing the way state interacts with us all. That evidently involves a new way of working, but also a change of culture.