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How to Take Action for Renewables

Ideas, information and practical activities for green energy campaigners

Information, ideas and practical action for green energy campaigners.


What is Action for Renewables? Tell me about renewable energy Renewable energy in the UK The Renewable Mix Campaigning Guides Running a campaign Running events Setting up a street stall Attending a planning committee Commenting on a planning application Letter writing Contacting your MP Taking Action Toolkit Plan a campaign Make a campaign banner Organise a visit to a wind farm or solar park Oddies Oddyssey Screening Resource ordering form

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What is action for renewables?

Almost everything we do relies on energy, whether its turning on a light switch, cooking dinner or using a telephone. At the moment, most of our electricity is generated from volatile imported fossil fuels such as gas and oil. We want to change that. We can harness the power of the sun, the waves and wind to power our homes and businesses. To do it were going to need a different kind of energy, yours. This guide contains practical information and tips to help you organise activities, on your own or as a group, to help build a future based on clean, renewable energy.
A silent majority of the UK is in favour of greener power, but theyre being drowned out by a noisy minority. Action for Renewables works to help the public support renewable energy, through campaigns to national politicians, providing helpful updates and facts about why renewable energy is good, and making it easy to support local projects like solar parks or wind farms. Action for Renewables is a grassroots campaign made up of supporters of renewable energy. We want to use our natural and abundant energy sources to generate the power our country needs; from the wind, waves, the sun and heat from the ground. Even rubbish! Our role is motivate, organise and activate support for renewables throughout the UK, helping to campaign for local projects and to work on issues facing renewables at the national level. We put the positive benefits of renewable energy, including environmental impact and energy security, before the public, and aim to dispel myths about its disadvantages. We seek to promote renewables, not to undermine other power sources in recognition of the role they may yet play in our future energy mix. At all times, we will aim to ensure that the information we present to the public is based on a clear and accurate representation of the best available science. We will not knowingly make false or misleading claims about the advantages and disadvantages of renewables, or any other form of energy.

How to use this pack

Action for Renewables runs campaigns that focus on a particular opportunity or challenge in the fight for renewable energy. This pack is designed to help you understand more about renewable power, and provide some suggestions for ways in which you can help build more public support in your local area, including activities for small groups and guidance and tips on running campaigns and events

jonathan.pyke@renewableUK.com Action for Renewables RenewableUK Greencoat House France Street London SW 020 7921 3035 @Act4Renewables www.facebook/actionforrenewables


Tell me about renewable energy.

There are many ways to generate renewable energy. This chapter looks at the most significant.

Renewable Energy in the UK

How does renewable energy work in the UK? At present, the UK gets around 11% of its energy needs through renewable energy sources. But in order to meet our legally binding climate targets, well need to generate more than ever.
Renewable energy is energy that can be naturally replenished. Unlike fossil fuels such as coal and gas, renewable energy is harnessed through natural resources such as wind, sunlight and tides. It can also come from the heat within the earth, in the form of geothermal energy, and from biological material, as biomass. Its often said that the British are fond of talking about the weather, and not without good reason. The UK is the windiest country in Europe, and with around 12,400km of coastline there are also plenty of waves. While the UK may not enjoy the same sunny climate as the Mediterranean, more than 50 times our energy use hits Britain in the form of sunlight. Solar panels can still generate significant amounts of electricity throughout the year. Renewable energy can make a huge contribution to our energy needs. However changing the way we generate our power requires commitment, investment and hard work. The UK is still wedded to creating energy from oil and gas, and while renewable energy is growing, we need to join together to demonstrate a public demand for power from green, renewable sources.

The Renewables mix

How does renewable energy work in the UK? At present, the UK gets around 11% of its energy needs through renewable sources. But in order to meet our legally binding climate targets, well need to generate more.
You cant make a cake with just one ingredient, and similarly you cant power the UK with just one energy source. Renewable energy depends on our natural resources, the waves, wind and the sun; but while our tides are constant, its not always windy or sunny. Thats why its important to have a variety of different ways of generating energy that complement each other, so that we can always rely on generating natural power

All living things contain energy, and biofuels use that stored energy to generate heat or electricity. This can often take the form of combustible materials, such as compressed wood pellets used in central heating furnaces, or industrial or food waste amd agricultural residue for use in larger biomass power stations. It can also come from crops specially grown for the purpose. If its managed properly, biomass is a sustainable fuel that can deliver a significant reduction in net carbon emissions when compared with fossil fuels. Biogas from anaerobic digestion uses the energy stored in the gas created from decomposing matter to generate electricity. Biodegradable material is mixed and heated in airtight storage bins called fermenters. As the cocktail of fermenting matter is digested by bacteria they give off a mix of gases including methane which is extracted and pressurised for use in the same way as gas from underground reservoirs. The gas is burnt to power a turbine which then powers an electrical generator. Biogas generation is often very suitable for farms and rural communities, as the best fuels are liquid manure and silage and other waste products from farms. The Biogas plants can range from small installations to large power stations and play a very important part in the UK energy mix, particularly for those who live a long way from electricity supplies.

Can we stop using fossil fuels entirely?

The world has become very used to using fossil fuels to provide our power, and while were generating more and more renewable energy, its likely that we will have to rely on some fossil fuels in the future. The UK currently consumes a huge amount of energy and its an important topic to ask if were really making the most efficient use of it. We can significantly reduce our energy demand by making houses and buildings better insulated, and cutting down on the energy we use in our daily lives, but over the next few years we will also need to make big decisions about where our energy comes from.

Geothermal Power
Geothermal power uses superheated water from deep below the ground to generate steam, which is used to drives turbine which in turn generate electricity. Its more common in geologically active countries such as Iceland where the heat from below the earths crust is closer to the surface due to its position on the volcanically active Mid Atlantic Ridge. There are a number of areas in which the UK could use geothermal energy, including Cornwall, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK and Icelandic governments are also looking at a highly ambitious interconnector, an undersea power cable carrying power between Iceland and the UK.

Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectric power uses the flow of water to generate electricity. The UK has used hydropower fo nearly 100 years, and it is one of the most widely used forms of renewable energy worldwide. In most cases water is held uphill, and allowed to flows through turbines, which causes them to turn, generating electricity. The water can come from rivers or reservoirs of different shapes and sizes, from small microhydropower units to huge dams. Hydropower is also used for pumped storage. While battery technology is still not advanced enough to store energy on an industrial scale, pumped storage goes some way to make up for this. Water is pumped up a hill to a reservoir, usually using cheap off-peak electricity. Then at times of increased demand the water is released back down the hill, driving turbines to generate further energy. Because of the need to store the water downhill, hydropower is typically found in hillier or mountainous areas, particularly in Scotland. Around 3.6 GW of energy a year is generated by hydropower, and around 2.7GW of pumped storage.

Ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps are often described as geothermal energy, but actually the technology is very different. Here the energy comes not from volcanic heat from below the ground, but from the sun, absorbed into the ground around the building. The system works in a similar way to a fridge, fluid flowing through a series of underground pipes outside the building is warmed by heat below the grounds surface which stays at a steady temperature all year round. The heated fluid is then pumped into radiators or under-floor heating in the building. Its also possible in summer to reverse the process and cool the building.

Solar Power
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power uses solar panels to capture energy from the sun. Photovoltaic cells, made from semiconducting materials like silicon, produce an electric field when light shines on them, which can be used by homes and buildings to generate heat and light. Youve probably seen solar panels on the roofs of buildings providing energy to individual homes and businesses, but there are also a growing number of solar parks which generate power on a larger scale. Solar energy is an important part of the UKs energy mix, particularly because it reduces the demand from each house for electricity from the grid. The stronger the sunshine the more energy produced, and while the UK isnt always the sunniest country solar panels will still generate power on a cloudy day.

Wave and Tidal Power

If youve ever been to the beach on a windy day youll know that the waves and tides hold tremendous amounts of natural energy, able to grind rocks into sand and erode cliffs. As an island nation, the UK has around 12,400km of coastline, and a huge potential for generating power. One of the best things about tidal power is that its as regular as, well, the tides! Which means that in future it could be extremely helpful in generating whats called the base load ie the minimum amount of power we always need whether demand is high or low. Capturing energy from the sea is a challenge, and the machinery needed to do it has to be very robust to cope with the effects of the environment. Not only does seawater corrode metal and other materials, it can be a dangerous job for those who have to install the machinery. Underwater turbines use a very similar design to wind turbines, but use the movement of the water to turn the blades and generate power. There are also several new devices that are in testing and starting to generate energy on a commerical level. The Oyster is a giant flap that uses the power of the waves to pump water at high pressure onto land to drive turbines, while the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter uses the motion of the surface waves to generate electricity.

Wind Power
Wind power is our most developed renewable energy technology, and along with biomass is the main source of our green energy. A wind turbine uses the power of the wind to rotate turbine blades, which turn an electrical generator to create power. Wind turbines come in different shapes and sizes, from small egg whisk style turbines suitable for buildings and urban areas, to the huge three-bladed turbines situated miles offshore. They can also vary from individual turbines in farms and communities, to groupings in the hundreds. The UK currently gets Wind power is variable, in that we cant control when the wind is blowing. But its very rare for the UK not to encounter windy weather across the whole of the British Isles. As Europes windiest country, it makes sense for us to use the wind when its blowing, as this cuts down on the amount of gas and coal we need to burn. Wind farms are found on land and at sea, and over the next decade its expected that as well as onshore wind, we will build many large-scale wind farms out to sea. This has already started with wind farms such as the London Array, the worlds largest wind farm, capable of generating up to 1GW of energy, comparable to a typical coal or nuclear power station.

Campaigning guides
Campaigning takes many forms, and all require some forethought. It might seem intimidating, but a little bit of planning will make a world of difference. This chapter sets out tips and advice for some of the most essential campaigning activities.


Running a campaign
a hard copy petition then you can arrange to present it with the relevant official such as a local councillor or your MP and this can make a great photo opportunity.

Campaigning is about getting your voice heard in the court of public opinion. Here are some tips from our campaigns team to help you get more out of your activities.
Strategy is the key to running a successful campaign. The word implies planning, organisation, and a series of manoeuvres in order to achieve a goal. It incorporates everything from writing a schedule to establishing a campaign message. Before getting into the detail of your campaign you need to work out what your objectives are, how you will measure your progress to your objectives and what tactics you will deploy. It is important to identify what you want to achieve and build up your campaign from there. There are many campaigning tactics which you can employ. These will depend on the audiences you plan to target and to the local issues you may be able to use to your advantage.

Communicating your campaign

W  rite: As a general rule use email to communicate with supporters of your campaign and write letters to the media and politicians, since letters tend to be taken more seriously. Also write up some literature that you can distribute, and dont forget to include a contact number or email address. C  all: Call up and on as many people as possible to support your campaign and get them to call the office of the politicians that you are lobbying. Obviously the most successful type of phone call is polite and firm abusive phone calls will be dismissed and not taken seriously. M  eet: As always, face to face contact is invaluable. Organise an event (see How to Organise an Event), set up a stall on the high street, hold presentations at schools and businesses do anything you can to put you and your lobbying campaign out there. M  ake it relevant: To maximise publicity for your campaign try and tie it in to something relevant in the news.

A campaign is not so much about you as the people who you will engage with. Your objectives must be relevant to your audience. Potential audiences or stakeholders in your campaign include: supporters, community groups, schools, business, trade unions, shops, religious leaders etc.

Publicising Your Campaign

If youre running a campaign you need people to be aware of it. The best ways of getting in touch with people is through media, although face to face contact is also important.

Local Issues
A local issue, or local angle to the campaign is more likely to concentrate the minds of politicians. Making your campaign local will also make it easier for you to find partner organisations and to enlist the support of community groups.

Campaign Tactics
Set up street stalls, organise rallies, and use all the above methods of communication to make sure as many people as possible have heard about your campaign. In addition, it is possible to organise stunts, such as a local opinion poll, which the media may pick up on or to put together a petition. Not only will this provide a database from which to contact people (provided they put their addresses down) if it is


This includes the internet, newspapers, magazines, radio (including student-run) and literature. If you have capacity you should consider creating a website, as this is generally peoples first port of call when looking for information. Send out a press release, provide contact details and let them know you are available for comments and quotes as well as interviews. Also alert them to any events you might be holding. If something related is in the news you can also write a letter to the editor commenting on the story and expressing your groups opinion. Youll need to react quickly but this is a great way of getting coverage in local/regional press.

Social Networking
Set up an online social networking profile such as a facebook or twitter account, create a Wikipedia entry, have a database of people and local groups to email. Basically get in contact with anyone and everyone relevant to your campaign through the internet.

Persuade, dont preach

Again, there are two things to be aware of in your bid for publicity. Firstly, dont preach. Persuade your supporters but dont talk down to them or patronise them. Secondly, it is natural that in the course of your campaign there will be bad publicity as well as good. The best responses are the quickest. If there are issues you anticipate may emerge, be ready to deal with them.


Running an event

Events big or small can provide a great opportunity to widen the audience for your campaign, meet like-minded people and recruit. Whether the event is just running a stall on the local high street on a Saturday afternoon or a full-scale extravaganza, there are a number of things you may need to think about:
It is worth considering what you hope to gain from holding the event. Do you wish to recruit members to the group, hold a petition on renewable energy or simply to raise the profile of your campaign? Once you have held the event, what opportunities will there be for people whose interest you have captured? Long term goals and objectives will ensure a cohesive, organised message for the event. In order to make your event as professional as possible, identify your target audience and then tailor your event to their needs. For example, if your community has a lot of senior citizens an easily accessible location is important. Identifying your target audience should enable you to better choose the location, time, date and method of communication for your audience. M  ake sure you have permission from the relevant authorities (for example you may need permission from the council to set up a stall). B  e professional with your presentation and organisation, eg matching tee-shirts at a street stall At the event itself there will be lots of things to do, so if youre the organiser dont over-burden yourself. Instead delegate, put together a duty roster and recruit volunteers.

Event Organisation
To make the event as successful as possible organisation is key. So work out your costs and stick to a budget. Also have an idea of what youre doing over the long term, and keep in mind how far in advance you may need to plan and raise publicity. D  ont forget to leave enough time to organise it M  ake it topical but check the diary to make sure your event wont have serious competition (such as a World Cup final!) C  onsider inviting guest speakers perhaps a sympathetic local councillor might add extra weight F  ind suitable premises for the expected turnout sometimes the smaller the better.

Are there any other groups, celebrities or organisations in your area that might be interested in your event? Think laterally energy is hugely important and has an impact on everyone. If you get another network involved you gain access to a whole new database of people to target.


Theres no point in holding an event if there are no attendees so publicity is crucial. The internet can provide a whole host of methods to publicise your event (often for free). Social networking sites are a great method of getting people interested as are websites. At Action for Renewables we love to hear about your events. Tell us what youll be doing and we can help you by including it on our facebook page and letting other activists know. Publicise on your website or facebook page if you have one and send event details to related websites for them to upload. Also send out emails to contacts (these are often forwarded on) and contact relevant internet communities.

For maximum exposure try to coordinate your event with something topical and newsworthy before getting in touch with local newspapers and radio stations (dont forget student-run media as its often overlooked). Even if your event isnt a story in itself you may be asked for comments. Be sure to familiarise yourself with FAQs and briefings and have copies on hand to refer to! Finally, dont forget the back to basics approach of knocking on doors and distributing literature. This requires a sizeable team and money for printing but can be effective. If you set up a stall this can be an event in itself so dont forget to consider factors such as timing and location (aim for the busiest place at the busiest time of day) and have lots of enthusiastic people handing out brightly coloured paraphernalia (leaflets, badges, balloons). Also dont forget to contact local newsletters and put up posters inside community centres, places of worship and cafes.


Setting up a street stall

A stall in the high street of your town or village is a great way attract support for renewable energy developments near where you live. A stall does three things: it provides an effective way of publicly demonstrating that local people support the development, gives you an opportunity to put across the truth about renewable energy, and allows you to identify other supporters easily and encourage them to write to local politicians. In this how-to guide, well give you some tips on planning a street stall, and good practice for the day itself.
Planning the Stall
Although a street stall may seem relatively easy to set up, planning out a few key details in advance will make sure the day runs smoothly. 1.  Why are you doing the stall? Its important to be absolutely clear what your aim for the day will be. Do you want to ask people to sign letters of support? Do you want to counter the myths youve heard being spoken about renewable energy? Do you want to generate a positive story in the local newspaper? One stall can do all of these things, but to make sure that theyre done effectively youll need to ensure that you prepare for all of them. 2.  What will the stall look like? The simplest way of making your stall look professional is use a decent tablecloth! Youll also need a banner for the table to make it clear to passersby what youre campaigning for there are templates on the Action for Renewables site. If youre distributing leaflets, consider buying plastic display stands for them theyre cheap, but they add a lot to the visual impact of the stall. In order to make sure that youre reaching as many people as possible, your location is very important. Consider the high street of your town, or the main shopping area if youre campaigning in favour of a wind farm, you might want to consider a central area from which the wind farm will be visible, and including visualisations of what it will look like when constructed as part of your stall. You can usually get these from the developer. 15 If you have a wall behind you (and have the permission of the owner of the building), you could put up posters like the ones in the Action for Renewables files section. 3.  What will you put on the stall? There are several postcard-sized leaflets on the Action for Renewables site you could have printed for the stall to cover the costs, you can apply to the central campaign by writing to jonathan.pyke@actionforrenewables.org, telling us what you plan to do and what you need funding for. If youre campaigning on a specific project such as a proposed local solar park or wind turbine which is going through planning, you may wish to encourage people to sign letters of support. Its vital that youre clear to people whats on these letters and that youll be submitting them to the council on their behalf. 4.  Where will you put the stall?

5.  When will you do it? 7. W  ill you invite the press? Make sure that you choose a date when you can secure as many volunteers to man the stall as possible its usually best to set up a rota, so that people can give a couple of hours of their time, if thats all they have. If theres a local carnival or fete, you might be able to set up your stall as part of it try contacting the organisers. 6.  Who will help out? If you havent already met other renewables supporters in your area, email us at jonathan.pyke@actionforrenewables. org and well help put you in touch with other supporters near you. To make sure that a street stall is successful, you cant just wait for people to approach you youll need to go up to people in the area around the stall, asking them to come and sign a letter of support. To this end, you might find it effective to put shy people on the stall with a confident person, to help boost their confidence.
Give-aways Freebies are a very good way of drawing people in to your stall. You could event follow this example and make themed cakes!

Its worth considering inviting the press to your stall, especially if youve made an effort to make it look distinctive. Write or call your local papers newsdesk local journalists tend to like stories about local campaigns on hot topics like renewable energy. Even if they dont send someone out, send a good picture of the activity round the stall along with a press release on the campaign afterwards making it easy for the paper to run a story directly from the press release! A street stall is a great way of encouraging support for renewables make sure you let us know how you get on!

Gone with the wind Come prepared with rocks, paperweights or anything heavy. Always remember the wind isnt your friend on a stall! Make sure your leaflets & fact sheets are weighed down.


Attending a planning committee

Speaking at planning committees is one of the most effective things you can do as a renewables campaigner. This guide will provide you with advice on attending a planning committee to voice your suppor for an application.
Committee Procedure
You are entitled to attend any planning committee meeting to hear the applications being considered by the Council. Committees are usually held on a monthly basis, but may be more frequent depending upon the Council workload. Committee dates are usually posted in the Council Offices and can be checked with the Council's Committee Clerks Department or the planning department, or online. You are also entitled to inspect a copy of the Officers Report to Committee. This is usually available 3/4 days prior to the committee and sets out the Planning Departments full consideration of the various planning matters, including a discussion of any objections or supporting statements. Check the committee pages of the Councils website for the agenda and minutes. This document might be helpful if there are particular objections to the development you feel you can successfully dispel when speaking to the committee. The committee agenda will indicate when the application will be considered during the meeting, but often the order is altered, at the Chairman's discretion, to bring forward applications where there are significant levels of public interest. This is to avoid people having to wait all evening to hear a particular application. Renewable energy developments normally have a significant level of interest. The Chairman will invite those who have registered to speak to address the committee from a suitable position in the Council Chamber. Two or three minutes are common time periods allowed for individual public address to the committee and are strictly controlled. This is not long and therefore it is a good idea to read a preprepared (and timed) statement or have a series of bullet points to make sure you remember all the points you wish to make. Here again, keep your comments simple, and keep them to the point. The committee is only interested in the planning merits of your comments and how they relate to the application. You may even be prevented from speaking if you just use the opportunity for making political or personal statements, or if you lose your temper. The most effective supporter is always the cool, calm and collected representative of personal or local opinion, who has done their homework and presents a logical planning case for the proposal under consideration. You may want to focus in particular on your areas renewable energy targets and environmental policies you can find these in your Councils development plan, as discussed in our Commenting on a Planning Application. If previous speakers have raised objections and you think you can respond to them, it may be worth amending your speech to reflect this but make sure you have your thoughts in order before you go up!

Speaking at the Committee

In most cases you will need to notify the Council in advance of your intention to speak. Check with the Planning Department or Committee Clerks office about the procedure adopted in your particular Council.


Commenting on a planning application

The only way were going to move Britain towards a future of cleaner, greener electricity to help combat climate change and secure our energy supplies is by building our way there. That means the next few years need to see more renewable energy developments being built but right now, only 25% of new wind farms get approval at the planning committee stage. This guide will help you support applications for developments in your area.
Anyone is entitled to comment on any planning application but to be effective, supporting statements must focus upon the 'planning merits' of the case. These would include the relevant planning policies applicable to the property and area concerned, as well as consideration of such matters as the impact of the scheme upon the local environment, highways issues, nature conservation, flood risk and many more detailed issues. To stand a chance of being taken seriously by the Council any support must be rational, impersonal and directed principally to the planning issues raised by the proposal.

Planning Procedure
When a planning application is submitted it is processed by the planning department within a set procedure. Applications are usually dealt with within 8 weeks of submission, but delays do occur for a variety of reasons. Wind farms and in some cases solar parks are controversial, and so are frequently delayed by an average of up to 18 months. Once the application is accepted as valid by the Council a series of consultation letters are sent out to a range of Statutory Consultees (such as the Highways Department, Environmental Health, English Heritage etc) which vary depending upon the individual proposal. These consultees are required to respond within 21 days with their comments on the application. The local Parish Council will be notified and they will consider the application at one of their regular meetings. They will formally respond giving their views on the application and stating whether they approve or object. Local Authorities also carry out public consultation. The way in which this is undertaken varies considerably between Councils. Some require the applicant to post a public notice on the site for a period of 21 days, or place an advert in the local paper. Others use their public address database to select addresses local to the application site for notification by letter. Weekly planning application lists are typically published on Council websites.


Supporting the Application

While a letter saying simply I support the renewable energy development at X will count as a valuable supporting letter, its not as effective as a properly worked-out letter of support. On the right well go through some steps you can take to make your supporting letter as effective as possible. You will usually be asked to make your objection within the 21-day consultation period established at the outset of the planning application. However, you can submit objections / supporting statements right up to the moment the application is considered, though the later you leave it though the less chance there is of the Council really giving your comments due consideration. This isnt the end of the story, however you can now attend the Planning Committee at which the fate of this application will be decided. Youll find out more about this in our Attending a Planning Committee guide.

4 Steps to a strong supporting statement

1.  Review the Local Plan policy. The Council will have copies of their Local Plan available either to view or purchase. This may take a bit of reading but will almost certainly contain policies that have a bearing upon the application. Do they support or deter the proposal? You may wish to refer to relevant policies in your letter of support. 2.  Research possible objections to the project. There are many common myths about renewable energy, especially wind power which are frequently used by opponents of clean energy when objecting to applications youll find a list of short rebuttals on the Action for Renewables site at www.Action for Renewablesmyplanet.com/facts. Some of them are more relevant for planning applications than others you may wish to discuss issues like noise and visual impact in your supporting letter. 3.  Set out your comments concisely. Keep it brief long rambling commentary is unhelpful. You might want to use sub-headings to organise your points. 4.  Send your comments into the Planning Department. There is usually a Case Officer or Area Group allocated to deal with the application, but if you cannot discover the exact person then just send your letter to the Planning Department. Always try and include the Planning Reference Number and location of the property. Authorities accept online submissions via the planning pages of the Councils website.



As campaigners and activists for green energy, writing letters to newspapers and your elected representatives are some of the most useful things you can do.
Newspapers and online media play a big part in forming public opinion, which in turn influences politicians. The stories they print and their attitude to certain issues will be shaped by the editor and owner, but also by the public. In an era of free digital information, to survive a newspaper needs to sell copies, which often means picking stories, or putting a spin on news their audiences will want to hear. After the headlines and opinion pieces, the letters page is one of the most widely read parts of a newspaper. Enough letters can persuade the editor to change their point of view, or at least moderate it. And even more importantly its a chance for you to put your argument across, point out any mistakes the paper has made and perhaps win over other readers. A good letter can make a huge difference to how the public feels about an issue.

Getting your letter read

Every letter makes a difference, but a few points can help make it more likely your letter gets published. B  e concise, and check previous editions of the paper to get an idea of the right length. Keep to just one topic, dont be tempted to try and cover too much ground. Try to match the style of the paper, and be sure to check their guidelines on form and content. The more formal broadsheets such as the Telegraph probably wont print your letter if you dont address it Sir. D  emonstrate your experience. If the article claimed wind farms are noisy and disruptive, you will make more of an impression if you can say you live near one and it hasnt caused you or your neighbours any problems. B  ack up your arguments with facts. The Action for Renewables website and Renewable UK have lots of factsheets busting open the myths about wind. A  lways read your letter out loud before you send it; its a good way of checking that it flows properly and makes sense. K  eep a copy back. Newspapers will often trim a letter and its useful to be able to compare to see if this has happened to you. O  nly send letters to one national paper. Most national newspapers and some of the larger regional papers will only accept a unique letter and will ask if youve sent it to any other papers. G  et your response in quickly. Todays news is tomorrows fish and chip paper. F  inally, although we realise that anti-wind coverage can make you pretty angry (and we get steamed up about it too) be passionate and firm in your convictions, but always be polite. Oh, and dont forget to let us know if you get a letter published!


Contacting your MP

Lobbying your local MP is one of the most established campaigning activities.

As our elected representatives and public servants, MPs are obliged to listen and respond to our concerns and opinions, whether weve voted for them or not. A letter is often the best way to raise attention, as many MPs will assume that your letter also reflects that of many other constituents who havent written in. Renewable energy is currently a very politicised topic, and the debate is often dominated by a noisy minority of antirenewables campaigners. As we make long term decisions about where our country gets its energy from, Its crucial that the public does all it can to show support for green energy.

What should I write?

MPs are busy so its important to be brief, to the point, and to show how the issue affects you and your fellow constituents. Renewable energy affects us all, because it is part of the bigger debate about where we get our energy from. In our current economic climate its vital that we show public support for wind, wave, solar, biogas and geothermal energy.  It makes sense economically. Renewable energy is creating jobs and investment in the UK at a critical time for the economy.  Our alternatives are expensive and unpredictable. The UK has an abundance of natural energy in the form of wind and waves. Last year the rising price of gas made up around 50% of consumer bills.  The UK needs to do its part to combat dangerous climate change. Without renewable energy (particularly onshore wind power) we are unlikely to meet our legally binding EU carbon targets.  Despite the best efforts of some sections of the media, its popular. Recent polls for YouGov and the Sunday Times have all demonstrated high levels of support of renewable energy of different kinds.

General tips

If possible, make sure you show support for an actual renewable energy project in your local area, whether its an offshore wind farm, solar park or a community scheme. . Always include your name and your address, so that they know you are a member of their constituency. Stay focussed, and stick to one line of argument. Dont be tempted to cover too much ground. Be clear, brief and concise. MPs are rarely experts in the field of renewable energy and are as liable to be confused by technical terms and jargon just as much as members of the public. Wherever possible, ask your MP to take action on your behalf, either by writing to a relevant minister, raising a question in the Commons or supporting a particular piece of legislation


Action for Renewables runs regular email campaigns on important issues involving green energy. If youre taking part in an Action for Renewables campaign you can personalise the email you send to your MP. But you can also use the opportunity to write a follow-up letter of your own. As always, be polite, and thank them for their time

Finding out who your MP is and getting in touch with them

Finding out your MPs contact details is easy, and there are several ways to search for them using your postcode. http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ http://www.parliament.uk/ http://www.writetothem.com/ The Action for Renewables website also has a number of campaigns that ask you to contact your MP. Keep checking back for more updates.

Getting replies and further action

If theyve been supportive then you may be able to work with them to raise the profile of renewable energy in Parliament, or ask them to endorse your campaigning work. You could also arrange to meet with them to discuss further points. Its also possible that they (or their research staff) have written a letter that just copies and pastes a bland official response. Dont feel like this is the end of the process! Write back and ask them to respond to the questions youve raised and explain why you arent happy with their reply. Even if they disagree with you, always be sure to be polite.

Further activity
While contact with your MP may well start with writing a letter, there are many different ways that you can put your views across, including meeting your MP to discuss issues with them in person, asking them to raise questions in parliament or even submitting Private Members Bills or Early Day Motions.


taking action toolkit

This chapter provides some suggestions for activities to run with local groups and campaigners.


Activity: plan a campaign

To help groups constructively map out their ideas for activities and campaigns, and set goals to achieve.

30mins-2hrs (depending on the size of the campaign and number of participants)

Was it awareness-raising, getting email addresses, or something else? How well did it go? Setting targets helps you understand what has worked and what hasnt, which will make your group all the more effective next time. Its great for motivating people and helping you pitch your activities at the right level.
Strategy? Or Tactics? Strategy and tactics are two concepts that are often mentioned in campaigning, but they arent the same. Put briefly, strategy is a broad over-arching plan to achieve a goal. Tactics are individual actions that help make up that strategy. The history and discussion of strategy and tactics is very long and involving and theres an overwhelming amount of information on the internet. A good place to start is http://www.campaignstrategy.org/

What youll need:

Some large sheets of paper (ideally flip-charts), pens, people and ideas (we find plenty of refreshments often help the thought process)

Planning your activity is one of the most important aspects of campaigning. Its essential because it helps you and your fellow campaigners to break down an activity and understand what you need to do to make it a success. And crucially it also helps you to understand what that success will look like; helping everyone to feel they are part of a winning team.

Be honest about what you want to achieve

When planning its important to be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve, and whether its really achievable. Many of us support renewable energy because we want to tackle climate change. This is an excellent aspiration, but a big challenge for a group of volunteers; how will you know your activities are helping? If your planning session leads you to conclude that youre not ready to tackle a particular event or challenge, almost always youll have identified the steps in between you need in order to get there. Equally, try not to see your plan as set in stone. A famous military commander once said no plan survives contact with the enemy. In other words, things can go wrong, opportunities can change, and you shouldnt be afraid to adapt to changing circumstances. How do you know when youve achieved your objective? If its running a street stall, that might be when youve packed up at the end of the day and headed off for a well-deserved drink. But what was the purpose of running the stall?


Step by step
Start things off by making sure everyone is clear what you want to achieve. Do you have a particular activity that you want to undertake or are you looking for ideas? Make sure that everyone knows when you expect to finish and what you want to have agreed.

Discussion: What activity will best achieve your objective?

O  n separate sheets, start writing down what you need to achieve these objectives. D  epending on the objective you might start with resources or activities first but you will mainly find that its a mix of both. F  or example, if your objective is to get new members of the group, you might decide you need a public meeting (Activity), which will mean finding a venue (Resource) putting up posters (Activity) and getting a local councillor to speak (in which case their contact details are a resource and contacting them is an activity).

Introduce the feasibility triangle.

The triangle is a tool to help shape your ideas. Its based on 3 points, your objective, the activity needed and the resources needed. Every one of these sides is vital, the best placed stall wont work without materials to put on it and people to volunteer, and the most well-run meeting wont be a success without people there to listen and take part.

Discussion: Agree your objectives

I f you have a large group, take 10 to 15 minutes in smaller groups to discuss different objectives. W  hat is the most important thing your group needs to achieve right now? Is it more people? Do you want to raise awareness by running an event? Do you need to get people to send letters to planning officers to support a community or local wind farm/solar park? I f you have lots of ideas, write them down and discuss briefly why they should be considered B  e aware that as in all group activities, those who are the most confident may dominate the session, especially in large groups, make sure everyone has a chance to feed into the conversation, often the quiet ones are sitting on a brilliant idea! W  rite up your objective on flip chart paper. Now you know what you want to achieve, you can start looking at the resources you need to achieve it.

Stay afloat by checking your RAFT!

I s it Realistic? Can you really get 40 activists to abseil down the town hall with a banner?* I s it Attractive? How will your audience react to it? Will they be interested and engaged? I s it Focussed? Are you sure it will achieve your objective? I s it Targeted? Can you measure it? How will you know youve been successful?

Setting targets
 Looking at your objective again, try and set targets that help you understand how well youre doing. Dont be afraid to aim high. Take a moment to work out how youll evaluate the session afterwards, this could be a quick meeting to talk about what worked and what didnt, to an email or an online poll through facebook.

To finish
Finish by filling in the feasibility triangle sheet. The sheet helps as a record for your event and can be photocopied for everyone taking part as a reminder.

*If you really can, then tell us. Well be there!


Campaign Activity Planner

Our objective is to...

is it Realistic? is it Attractive? is it Focussed? is it Targeted?


(To do this well need...)


(To achieve it we need to...)


(Well know its worked if...)


Permission granted to photocopy for personal use.


Make a campaign banner

A good looking campaign banner is an incredibly useful campaign tool. You can use it for stalls, to set the scene at meetings and particularly for photos with the press. It helps to give your campaign a visual identity so that when people see it they understand who you are and what youre campaigning for, and is very useful if youre thinking about an attention-grabbing stunt. They can also be very fun to make and help bring a group together.
Create a good looking banner to use for your activities Time: From 1-3hrs What youll need The skys the limit here, but depending on your resources, youll most likely need f  abric for the banner such as a sheet or ripstop nylon paint or dye to write on/illustrate it a team of creative and enthusiastic people

What next

Now youve made your banner, youll want to show it off! A banner drop is a classic way of getting attention and very easy to organise. Pick a well-known local spot such as a bridge or town hall and get as many people as you can to hold the banner up. The bigger the better! Dont forget to have someone take some pictures for newsletters, email groups and sending to the press.

Ideas and inspiration

Think about what you want to have on the banner. Do you want to have a slogan? What colours would you use? If you plan to use the banner for stunts or photoshoots, often the simpler the better, and make sure its legible from a fair distance away! To help you plan out your ideas weve included a few examples of campaign banners.*

*Images are provided for example only and do not constitute an endorsement for the relevent organisation or campaign.


Organise a visit to a wind farm or solar park

Getting up close and personal with renewable energy can be a little difficult without planning, as most sources of power such as wind turbines and solar parks are on private land, and wave and tidal generators are out to sea. However many operators will be happy to show groups around if contacted. Its also a great way to get to grips with the benefits of renewable energy and particularly useful for those who might be concerned about wind farm noise.
Aim Get first-hand experience of renewable energy Understand the impact of renewable energy sites D  evelop some of your own campaigning reasons for supporting green energy Time 1-3 months to prepare half to 1 day for the visit What youll need List of renewables operators Transport arrangements Audio recorder (optional)

Activities Before the visit

Do some background research and discuss your expectations. If youve never visited a wind farm or seen a large wind turbine in operation, what are you expecting? What negative things have you heard about

During the visit

Talk about your impressions of the site, (its useful to capture these on the audio recorder. Ask people to talk about how the site feels up close, especially if its a wind farm. Is it noisy? How is it fitting into the local environment?

After the visit

Review all the comments that people made before and during the visit. Were your expectations confirmed? What was different? This can be very helpful in understanding peoples concerns about renewable energy, especially wind power, and to help when talking to people about wind farms.


There are a growing number of dedicated visitor centres in the UK where you can find out more about wind energy and other renewable sources.

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth in Wales, is a near Snowdon, is an education and visitor centre which demonstrates practical solutions for sustainability. They cover all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing. Centre for Alternative Technology Machynlleth, Powys SY20 9AZ www.cat.org.uk

20 minutes from Central Glasgow, Whitlee, Europes largest wind farm has a brand new interactive visitor centre where you can learn about renewable energy and head out to over 70km of cycling, walking, horse rinding and outdoor activities.

Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre Eaglesham, Strathclyde G76 0QQ www.whiteleewindfarm.co.uk

Delabole, Cornwall

The EcoTech Centre at Swaffham in Norfolk aims to inform the public about sustainablitiy and renewable energy. As well as the the worlds fastest wind powered car and a large solar array, there are great views from the observation platform built at the top of the centres wind turbine. EcoTech Centre Swaffham, Norfolk PE37 7HT www.ecotech.co.uk

Delabole wind farm was the first commercial wind farm to be built in the UK, and is still going strong. If youre in Cornwall why not stop by? The wind farm is run by Good Energy, and can be found 3 km north west of Camelford, and in easy reach of many of Cornwalls best tourist spots. Speak to owner Martin Edwards to arrange group tours. 01840 214 100


Oddies Oddyssey Screening

Our short film, Oddies Odyssey follows renowned UK broadcaster and naturalist Bill Oddie as he travels round the UK looking at different forms of renewable energy. Its a great introduction to some of the reasons behind green energy and how they work, so if you are just starting out campaigning for renewable energy why not have a screening for your group?


Find out a bit more about the different types of renewable energy in the UK Bring people together in support of Time: 1-1.5hrs (Film 33mins)

What youll need

A copy of the Oddies Oddyssey DVD DVD player and a large TV or projector Popcorn or snacks S  omewhere to show the DVD. Depending on the size of your audience, this could be anything from your front room to a community centre. Or if youre confident with the weather, why not show it outside with a barbecue and some drinks?

After the film has finished, why not have a group discussion?
What was the most inspiring about the video? W  hat have you learned that might be useful in discussing renewable energy? Has the video raised questions for your group to W  hat should you do next? This is a great opportunity to either plan your next campaigning activity or to publicise your next event.


Resources order form

The following Action for Renewables resources are available to help you with your campaign activitiy. Please fil the required amount in each box (subject to availability), your details, and return to the address provided below.

Contact Name Group or organisation Delivery dddress

Postcode Contact Telephone Contact Email

Wind Energy for Kids

Oddies Oddyssey DVD

Embrace Lapel Badges


I heart wind button badges

Action for Renewables Sign-up Postcards

I heart wave button badges

Please complete and return this form by email, post or fax. Email: jonathan.pyke@renewableUK.com Fax: 020 7901 3001 Post: Action For Renewables c/o RenewableUK, Greencoat House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DH


Action For Renewables

(Supported by RenewableUK)

Tel: +44 (0)20 7901 3035 Fax: +44 (0)20 7901 3001 RenewableUK, Greencoat House, Francis Street, London SW1P 1DH