Kent County Council (KCC) is one of the partners in the Coastal Communities 2150 project, funded by the European Union.
In the early stages of the project, KCC identified three coastal communities in Kent which were particularly vulnerable to future climate change impacts: the Isle of Sheppey, Margate & Cliftonville and Romney Marsh. CAG Consultants, in partnership with LUC, were commissioned to develop a plan for community engagement with these communities, and to develop a set of tools to support this community engagement plan.
Engagement with the local community:
CAG Consultants and LUC worked with the local community, as represented in the CC2150 ‘Local Engagement Groups’ in each area, to develop a broad approach to community engagement and to identify the tools which would most cost-effectively support this engagement. The scoping stage involved consultation with key stakeholders in the community and with local partners, including the local authorities and the Environment Agency. CAG and LUC developed a first draft of the tools which was tested with the Local Engagement Groups (LEGs) in February 2013. These drafts have now been revised and finalised in response to comments from the LEGs.
Final versions of the tools have now been delivered to KCC, ready for the public launch of the project in May/June 2013. Prior to launch, the project website can be found at: kentcoastalcommunities2150.org.uk
A key feature of CAG’s proposed approach to community engagement is the progression from outreach work in the wider community, including work with hard to reach groups, through to detailed visioning and action planning work with community members and stakeholders who express interest in being more deeply involved. CAG has prepared detailed guidance for each element of this approach, including information events with hard to reach groups, and an outline for two visioning/action planning workshops which will be run by KCC in September. The tools developed through the project include:
- An online hub, to share information and gather feedback
- Postcards and posters to publicise project events and signpost people to the website
- Guidance on use of social and traditional media to engage people with the project
- Highly visual display boards for use at community events and exhibitions
- Activities to engage people at these events (e.g. mark issues on aerial photo of the area)
- Paper-based and online maps on key themes, to allow exploration of future issues
- A schools pack, including games and activities, to engage young people
CAG Consultants and LUC have developed an overall community engagement plan and a suite of tools to support it. The tools, with accompanying guidance on their use, will enable the CC2150 team to engage a wide cross-section of the community with the project, to generate a wide range of feedback on issues and opportunities related to future climate change in the three project areas and to feed these views into the development of a shared vision and action plan that are owned by the community as a whole.
The ultimate success of the project must be judged on the quality of the action plan that emerges, and the steps taken to implement this plan beyond the CC2150 project.