EDF Energy believes that the cornerstone of its "leading the energy change" vision is low-carbon energy. The company recognises that the communities in which it operates are fundamental to delivering on this strategy. Furthering local interests and supporting economic and social aspirations is not just the right thing to do, but a strategic imperative.
Thus EDF Energy works not simply to co-exist passively in the communities in which it operates, but to create environments where people share in the benefits of a thriving community. The company achieves this by, for example, supporting local wildlife reserves and biodiversity, and economic initiatives that create training, education, and employment for local people. EDF Energy community initiatives have been recognised by Business in the Community (BITC), an international network of responsible and sustainable businesses. In June 2011, the company won the Rural Action Big Tick Award from BITC for its work at the Hinkley Point C site.
In September 2008 EDF Energy launched The Pod, a free online learning resource that helps teachers to educate children about energy, water, transport, waste and biodiversity. The Pod offers lesson plans, resource packs, information, games, and an online space where children can share their work. The Pod runs three national campaigns each year to help engage schools, parents and local communities in green projects.
EDF Energy’s Nuclear Generation business is the principal sponsor and education partner of the Cheltenham Science Festival, one of the biggest events of its kind in the country. In 2011 more than 7,000 schoolchildren attended workshops with many more enjoying the Discovery Zone. Altogether over 31,000 people purchased tickets for events at the festival and a further 17,000 people attended the free events.
At EDF Energy power plants the company has helped to establish nature reserves that are open to the community, free of charge, to learn about the environment.
EDF Energy sponsors Generation Science, a key part of the annual Edinburgh Science Festival in Scotland, a series of school workshops that is designed to make science fun, exciting and easy to understand for school children. The company supports initiatives such as STEMNET and Go4SET, which aim to increase the number of students choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at various levels of education.
The company is also working closely with schools and colleges in Somerset to secure local talent and expertise to support the proposed construction of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C and to create opportunities for young people in the community.
The Helping Hands volunteering programme allows EDF Energy employees to spend two days of company time each year volunteering in the local community. Volunteers have spent time litter-picking, redecorating a hostel for vulnerable young people and creating a peace garden.
As part of its work with Global Action Plan, EDF Energy has supported the Eco Teams initiative which works with businesses, charities and communities to help them become more sustainable. The initiative hosts free events in local areas where people can sign up for energy-saving advice.
Based on its own research, Global Action Plan claims that, on average, households participating in Eco Teams used 21% less energy to heat their homes, reduced their carbon emissions by 17% and cut waste by 20%.
To help create open and honest dialogue with local people, EDF Energy’s Nuclear Generation business employees talk to schools, colleges and community organisations, helping to improve understanding about EDF Energy and the energy industry in general.
The company undertakes a considerable amount of local engagement and communication as part of its community relations programme. This includes community forums, regular newsletters, drop-in sessions and support for local initiatives.
EDF Energy has also consulted extensively on its proposals to build a new power station at Hinkley Point. This has included stakeholder meetings, public exhibitions and a special website. Plans to mitigate or manage local impacts have been directly shaped by feedback received. An employment brokerage has also been established to help local people take advantage of job opportunities.
Consultation with the community in Suffolk will begin in 2012, helping to shape the company’s plans to build a new nuclear power station at Sizewell.