Locals in this British seaside town could revolutionise green energy – if the government lets them

Voters want climate action but don’t trust politicians to do it. Could projects like a Whitehaven windfarm be the answer?

  • Rebecca Willis is professor of energy and climate governance at Lancaster University

The seaside town of Whitehaven, in the north-west of England, found itself at the centre of a political storm in May, when the levelling up, housing and communities secretary, Michael Gove, gave his approval for the UK’s first new deep coal mine in more than 40 years just outside the town.

But Whitehaven may soon be known for more than climate-wrecking coal. That is the ambition of Project Collette, a £3bn proposal for a windfarm off the Cumbrian coast to be part-owned by the local community – instigated by the Green Finance Community Hub in collaboration with the engineering firm Arup and community energy specialists Energy4All – and with the potential to power nearby industry.

If Cumbrians could stand on the sandstone cliffs and look out at wind turbines they owned, and that had provided jobs for local people, that might just build the political support and engagement that is so vital to reaching our climate targets?