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The crowd and environmental activism

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The crowd and environmental activism

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This summer saw environmental protestors descend on the Sussex village of Balcombe to protest against plans to use the controversial drilling method of fracking in the hunt for oil in the area.  The protestors utilised a range of tactics in an attempt to generally disrupt the process as much as possible.

This blog isn’t the place to debate the merits or otherwise of fracking, but the approach taken by the protestors did rankle.  I spoke with a couple of those supporting the activists at the time and mentioned the rapid rise of crowdfunding of civic projects.  Rather than use fair and foul means to disrupt what was a legal activity, why could they not set up a crowdfunding campaign to buy the land, I suggested?  That way, with enough support, they would legally own the land, and could do as they wished with it.

A nice example of what could be achieved has emerged this week from Holland, where 1700 Dutch households have raised a record €1.3 million in just 13 hours to pull together and get themselves a wind turbine.  For the next 12 years, these households will get their energy nice and sustainably from their co-operative wind turbine.

The project was facilitated by WindCentrale, who sold shares in the turbine for €200 each.  This share equates to around 500kWh of energy each year, which is around 15% of the Dutch average.

Harm Reitsma, founder of Windcentrale, said ‘We expected things would move fast, but nobody anticipated the run on the wind-shares that happened yesterday evening. An increasing number of people want to generate their own electricity. Solar panels aren’t always an option and so wind-shares in a remote wind turbine gives everyone the chance to take matters into their own hands and generate their own clean electricity. As a result, interest in our wind-shares has been huge, and continues to rise. A good example of Power To The People!’

It represents a fantastic example of how communities can club together and achieve change in a constructive way that doesn’t force their opinions onto others.  Will it be a model that activists adopt en masse?  Given the response to my suggestion I have real doubts, but one can but hope.

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