Community Charters are a new model for community engagement around essential rights and responsibilities. Here is a PDF of the blueprint Falkirk Charter. It has a Creative Commons licence and we ask you to let us know how you adapt and use it so we can share the learning.
Why do we need a Charter?
It brings people together to create a shared vision of the future and to protect it against threats to that vision. It is inspired by the “Community Bill of Rights” movement in the United States led by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
It brings together a vision of a truly sustainable community, ecology and economy. Importantly, it offers a definition of sustainability that includes process: a decision-making process where the needs of the local community and natural environment are genuinely heard and considered. It affirms the potential for participatory democracy and situates that within the existing planning framework.
Tom Crompton, founder of the Common Cause Foundation, provided a Witness Statement to the public inquiry in Falkirk where the first Charter was created. His Witness Statement gave evidence on the value of such a Charter for sustainability and can be found here.
How do they work?
Community Charters are seeking to influence the planning process in four fundamental ways:
- A Charter declares the sum total of the community’s intangible and tangible assets to be its ‘Cultural Heritage’ for assessment under the EU Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. It asserts the basic right of the community to have decision-making powers with respect to these assets.
- A Charter is presented as a "material consideration" that the planning authority must take into account in its decision-making.
- A Charter recognises that nature has intrinsic value, and not just an economic value. It invites local authorities and corporations to engage in participatory planning processes that give recognition to this intrinsic value.
- In invoking the Precautionary Principle, which presumes against developments which pose a suspected risk until the developer can prove that it is safe, it aligns itself on a local scale with the proposed international law of Ecocide.