Navigating Renewable Energy: Joining the dots between developer and community

Consultation – it’s a tick box exercise right?

Wrong! Embarking on the journey towards renewable energy involves a complex and multifaceted planning process that intertwines technical expertise, environmental considerations, and economic planning. However, you’d be wise not to overlook the fundamental importance of getting community consultation right. The successful and timely implementation of these projects relies on the successful participation of the communities in which they are situated.

At the heart of the renewable energy planning process lies the imperative to engage with local communities in a meaningful and accessible manner. The decisions made during the planning stages of a renewable energy project can have profound and lasting impacts on the surrounding environment, economy, and social fabric. Therefore, it is essential that the public is provided with ample opportunities to give informed feedback and contribute to the decision-making process.

The complexity of the planning process stems from the myriad factors that must be considered and balanced to ensure the successful implementation of a renewable energy project. Developers must navigate a maze of regulatory requirements, environmental assessments, land use considerations, and technical constraints to bring their vision to fruition. Moreover, they must do so in a way that respects and integrates the needs and concerns of the communities that will be affected by the project. Central to this process is the delivery of consultation in an accessible manner that enables members of the public to engage meaningfully and provide informed feedback.

‘Done correctly, an insightful consultation process can navigate the complexities of the planning process in an accessible manner, avoiding potential frustration and mistrust, and preventing undue resistance to renewable energy projects within the community.’

In this blog, we delve into the intricacies of navigating renewable energy projects, with a focus on the communities, to ensure that developers are transparent and as informative as possible during the planning process, and that the voice of the public is heard and integrated into the planning process. By effectively empowering communities to actively participate in the renewable energy transition, renewable developers can align projects with local needs and build a more welcomed sustainable and equitable future.

Alleviating Community Concern

Renewable energy projects can face resistance or scepticism from communities due to concerns ranging from visual aesthetics to perceived broader environmental impacts. However, when proactive and transparent consultation is conducted throughout the planning stage, many of these concerns can be alleviated. This fosters community support for sustainable energy initiatives through a considerate and trusting relationship between the developer and the community.

Acknowledgement of concerns: One crucial aspect of addressing community concerns is recognising and acknowledging them early in the project development process. Developers should engage with community members and stakeholders from the outset to understand their perspectives and identify potential areas of contention. By listening to community feedback early, developers have the opportunity to analyse feedback, amend plans, and engage in discussing new ideas with the public.

Clear, honest and open engagement: Transparency is another key principle in effective consultation. Providing clear and accessible information about the proposed project, including its objectives, benefits and potential impacts, helps to build trust and credibility with the community. Most notably, early release of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) and initial project plans provides locals with an understanding of the most notable features of the project, allowing them ample time to consider and respond during the early engagement. This information should include but not be limited to: proposed location, project logistics, deliverables, safety, impact on community and community benefit. This information should be updated regularly, and shared often, through multiple channels, such as public meetings, newsletters, websites, and social media platforms.

Keeping in touch: Following consultation, conducting in depth feedback analysis post-consultation provides a clear overview of key issues, concerns and potential benefits to the local area. It is important that meaningful engagement is recognised to involve creating opportunities for dialogue and collaboration, rather than simply presenting information in a one-way communication process. A successful dialogue can be established through multiple points of engagement through the pre-application process (both informal and formal), with each providing an opportunity to discuss project updates, as well as responding in a timely manner through the established communication channels during the entire period the project is active.

Community members should feel empowered to voice their opinions and trust that their contributions to decision-making processes are valued and considered.’


Whilst renewable energy developments are forecast to continue growth in alignment with the Welsh Governments Net-Zero targets, communities can be positively assured that by proactively engaging in the consultation processes, their feedback is being heard, assessed and thoughtfully implemented into the future developments of all projects.

Here at Thirty4/7 Communications, we do this on behalf of our clients on a daily basis. If you’d like to discuss your project and how you can make the most out of local engagement through the pre-application process, get in touch with a member of the team!