AURORA Forest of Dean participates in Rural Climathon


Earlier this year, the AURORA Forest of Dean team and members of the energy community (Forest Community Energy) took part in a ‘Rural Climathon’. This saw over 40 influential stakeholders and experts co-design locally relevant solutions to support energy decarbonisation in the Forest of Dean. The event was organised by Forest of Dean District Council and facilitated by the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICHE).

Group of people stand in front of building.
Rural Climathon event attendees – taken in front of Forest of Dean District Council offices (Source: Forest of Dean District Council)

Setting the scene

The AURORA Forest of Dean team were among the experts presenting in the context-setting webinar. The team presented on the aims of AURORA, the objectives of Forest Community Energy and the challenges they face. The webinar also explored:

  • Decarbonisation building blocks with the Southwest Net Zero Hub
  • Distribution of future energy scenarios with the National Grid
  • Onshore renewables with Friends of the Earth
  • Net zero plans with Forest of Dean District Council

Slide from the AURORA Forest of Dean presentation during the pre-event webinar.

Solution co-design

Subsequently, during an all-day workshop in Coleford, attendees proposed their solutions. From these discussions, six key action themes, encompassing both technical and social innovation emerged:

  1. Retrofit private and social housing
  2. Storage capacity
  3. Scalable approaches to community energy
  4. How to guides for grid connections
  5. Education, climate literacy and community engagement
  6. Heat and heat networks

The group was split across these themes to develop and present an idea to a panel for feasibility feedback. The panel included representatives from the Forest of Dean District Council, National Grid Electricity Distribution, and Gloucestershire Growth Hub. The solutions developed included retrofitting social housing in the district, using the district’s old mines to store energy and exploring the development of community heat networks. They are summarised and illustrated below:

Team names and chosen solutions (Source: NICRE)
Visual notes of the discussion and solutions developed at the Climathon © Amanda Stee (Source: NICRE)

Next steps

This was the first in a series of ‘Climathons’ due to take place in the district. In the near future, groups will meet to explore decarbonisation solutions for transport, as well as land use and food.

The Forest of Dean District Council will be exploring how these solutions can be implemented in the Forest of Dean in the future.

What does this mean for AURORA and Forest Community Energy?

The actions from the Climathon fed into the development of the AURORA Forest of Dean/Forest Community Energy roadmap, which will be put forward to the Forest of Dean District Council as ‘priority asks’ later this year, to feed into the district’s wider plans to support community energy initiatives in the Forest of Dean.


You can read the full report aqui.

Watch the video captured on the day aqui.

Read the council’s press release about the event aqui.

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