A new study will explore what is left behind of the carbon-intensive energy infrastructure and how to support the communities they are in as the UK seeks replacements.
Led by Keele University researchers, the study aims to create a new role for local communities in decommissioning large industrial facilities such as coal plants.
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and will bring communities together by connecting them to the three sites: Chatterley Whitfield Colliery near Stoke, Fawley Power station near Southampton, and West Burton Power station near Gainsborough.
Researchers say these three sites are the “past, present and future of decommissioning”, and that each one will offer expertise and knowledge about the possibilities and pitfalls for community ownership of decommissioning processes and their outcomes.
Working with local stakeholders, the project will provide locals with a genuine role in what happens to twentieth-century energy infrastructure as the UK moves towards a net-zero economy.
The aim of the project is to give people the opportunity to partake in the decommissioning of facilities. This will allow these sites to become places for the community. The team will examine how techniques and knowledge from the arts can inform genuine and successful community involvement.
The research will involve each site hosting a series of workshops over the next two years. These will include a policy paper to help professionals, heritage organisations and politicians on what they should expect the new decommissioning process to look like.
Keele University historian Dr Ben Anderson will lead the project. He said: “It is a privilege to be the principal investigator on this AHRC-funded project. I’m excited to be working with some truly dynamic communities, art practitioners and academics to ensure that local people can take a leading role in decision-making when large industrial facilities are closed.”
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