Oldham Energy Futures - Oldham, UK

Photo: Brandon Denny

Status: Concluded.


In Greater Manchester (UK), Oldham Energy Futures was a two year project run by the community energy organisation Carbon Co-op, in partnership with Urbed, CLES, UCL and Oldham Council. The project developed a new approach for local authorities and other energy system stakeholders to develop local area energy plans in collaboration with communities. The result was Community-Led Energy Planning (CLEP), a new place-based, community-centred approach to building knowledge, understanding and confidence in lower-income communities to enable them to shape and benefit from the energy transition.

After 18 months of diagnostic, learning and action, community leaders recruited by the project released two ground-breaking CLEPs, setting out priorities, actions, and directions to drive the change.

In Westwood, the need to address the poor energy efficiency of local homes, high levels of fuel poverty and cost of living challenges, encouraged the group to set its sights on establishing an energy advice service to support local people through this winter. In Sholver, a public transport campaign looking to respond to the local perception of an unreliable, expensive and unfit for purpose local service, hopes to improve the clean transportation offer for local people.

Read the full report from Westwood and Sholver in the documents below:




After hosting a series of in-community workshops covering energy systems education, neighbourhood mapping, citizen data collection, energy systems modelling and group cohesion activities, the project delivered three community pilot projects in Oldham's neighbourhoods of Sholver and Westwood:

  • Westwood energy efficiency services: Developing an energy advice hub for Westwood;
  • Sholver transport pilot: Establishing a clean transport campaign for Sholver;
  • Community Energy Sholver: Exploring the potential for community owned rooftop solar in Sholver and neighbouring areas.

Energy efficiency in Westwood

Aimed at laying the foundations for Westwood specific domestic energy efficiency services, the project group worked with a Carbon Coop mentor and retrofit service specialists to deliver workshops and engagement activities, as well as develop a longer-term project plan including initial fundraising activities. As a result, the local community hub Millennium Centre runs free weekly energy café sessions as a volunteer energy advisor-led scheme.

Clean transport in Sholver

This pilot worked to engage local population in discussions around public transport offering in Sholver. As a result, it identified a need to focus on footpaths and barriers to walking. The pilot established an active Travel & Transport community group: the Sholver Travel Futures to share the suggestions learnt in the pilot with stakeholders and works across newly formed partnerships to bring the improvements to fruition. It also established a monthly walking club, ‘The Sunday Stroll’, to encourage residents to take short walks and talk about improvements in the neighbourhood.

Solar Oldham

This pilot explored the potential for community-owned rooftop solar in Sholver and neighbouring areas. The group concentrated on the Northern Trust Alliance run Oldham Hospital. Initial conversations with the energy and sustainability leads showed an opportunity to develop a community-owned 2mW+ solar array providing clean, affordable energy for Oldham Royal Hospital. A full feasibility study commissioned by the hospital is underway and, if successfully implemented, approximately 2,060,000 kWh of new renewables capacity would be installed, creating a saving of 251mtCO2.




Oldham Energy Futures organised a series of workshops with the local community, repeated throughout the programme, to build understanding based on energy transition themes which are relatable to peoples’ everyday lives.

Activities were designed to help the group develop:

  • an understanding of how the issue impacts them
  • a deeper understanding of the issue
  • an understanding of how the issue impacts the community
  • the mechanisms for change

This approach helps the neighbourhood group to identify key local challenges, needs and solutions in relation to the energy themes, as well as developing their awareness of the change they could bring about following the programme.



Oldham Energy Futures used ward level data sets as a proxy for the neighbourhood, due to the number of data sets available at this level.

  • Carbon Emissions:

Ward and postcode level territorial carbon footprint breakdown, which can provide an understanding of the relative carbon intensity of transport vs. household energy consumption within the neighbourhood. The project used this data to “set the scene” with regards to the challenges which need to be addressed in Sholver and Westwood in relation to reducing carbon emissions.

  • Transport:

Existing public transport links and cycle networks (Transport for Greater Manchester and the Mapping GM tool); Green spaces (Open Street maps and the Mapping GM); Air quality (‘Assess to Healthy Assets and Hazards (AHAH)’ data set from Consumer Data Research Centre Dataset to identify air quality problem spots. Data used in the Community-Led Energy Action Plans to support key findings around travel modes and the effects on travel emissions.

  • Home energy efficiency

Existing building typologies (age and type of housing) - baseline data developed by using Google Maps to identify and map clusters of similar building typologies, breaking them down by age and looking at the building form and features. New data sets on energy performance of homes and tenure of homes (Climate Guide). Oldham Energy Futures used this data in the Community-Led Energy Action Plans to support key findings locating areas of housing stock with poor energy efficiency across the neighbourhood.


  • Renewable energy

The project worked with the local authority and local Net Zero Hub to understand existing knowledge of renewable energy generation potential, and mapped existing renewable energy projects. They commissioned Climate Guide to use the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s solar photovoltaic (PV) panels rooftop modelling tool and also used this data in the Community-led Energy Action Plans to identify potential renewable energy projects within the neighbourhoods and wider wards involved in the project.

  • Community ownership

Existing community owned energy businesses. Oldham Council helped the Oldham Energy Futures team to identify Oldham Community Power, the only community owned renewable energy organisation present in Oldham.

  • Demographics

To gain an understanding of the demographics of the neighbourhood, Oldham Energy Futures explored data on indices of multiple deprivations; household income; fuel poverty; unemployment rate; ethnicity; age; health. Oldham Council’s ward profiles were a useful source of information.








The project released a toolkit arguing that councils should work with communities to build both figurative and literal ownership of the just transition. It provides information about:

  •     the practicalities of preparing for a CLEP process;
  •     delivering workshops to build knowledge and understanding with a neighbourhood group;
  •     communicating findings and solutions;
  •     enhancing the approach and combining it with additional activities, including Local Area Energy Planning or community-led action projects to build community wealth.
Repeating Elements
Laying the Groundwork
Sustainable Transport
Energy Efficiency
Renewable Energy
Community Ownership
Action Planning

Carbon Co-op



Based in Greater Manchester, Carbon Co-op is a not for profit, energy services and advocacy social enterprise that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change. Established 12 years ago, Carbon Co-op is active in three areas: Energy Commons, Retrofit, and Energy Systems.

Among other things, the ICLEI Action Fund technical team of experts selected Carbon Co-op's proposal due to its strong social component where social inclusion is not just "ticked off" but it is present at every step of the project. In addition, the multiple-source data-driven approach and the integrated focus of work involving energy and mobility were positive aspects.