West of England Context


This initiative builds on a long history of activity in the West of England area, or ‘counties that used to be Avon’.  To do anything meaningful about climate change, we need to work at the West of England scale or larger. Just acting at a Bristol or Bath or North Somerset or South Gloucestershire level is not enough.  City and countryside need each other. That was true when our energy came from burning wood or from mills on the river Avon. It’ll be true in the future, when have solar power on the roofs in built up areas, water power from rivers, wind power in open space, rural areas and offshore, and tidal power in the estuary.

There are already a whole complex of organisations planning, building or campaigning in the region on climate energy and resource issues. In Bath, there are initiatives from B&NES council including the sustainability forum, which used to meet regularly;  Bath and West Community Energy, which has facilitated community investment in solar power; Transition Bath; a number of neighbourhood groups including Energy Efficient Widcombe, Love Combe Down.

The Bristol Green Capital Partnership has over 800 members from across the West of England, including many in the third sector. In 2015, Bristol was the green capital of europe, a title earned partly due to the efforts of the Green Capital Partnership. During that year, strategic plans were developed, including the Good Food Plan for Bristol  and a Good Transport Plan for Bristol. The Green Capital year also saw the appointment of two green and black “ambassadors” to help involve black and ethnic minority communities with environmental issues. You can read more about that, and the results here.

Bristol Energy Network  has been bringing together community energy groups in Bristol and the wider West of England since it was founded in 2009.  In 2013 it facilitated a collaborative process to develop a Bristol Community Strategy for Energy.

This blog post on an international energy democracy website discusses the work done by Bristol City Council and the Bristol Energy Network in more depth.   The Bristol Energy Co-operative also has a history of Bristol’s progress towards a zero carbon future.

In North Somerset, the community energy group Low Carbon Gordano has two large solar schemes and a number of small ones.

There are links to many other organisations involved in this work on our resources pages.