In light of the growing emphasis on community engagement in the literature on renewable energy planning, and given the acknowledgement of the complexity of community engagement as a concept, we conducted an empirical review of practice relating to community engagement with onshore wind farms in the UK, exploring what is actually happening in terms of community engagement relating to onshore wind farms, and examining the rationales underpinning approaches to community engagement. We found that a wide range of engagement methods are being used in relation to onshore wind farms across the UK, but that these are predominantly focused at consultation and awareness raising. Developers typically retain considerable – or total – control within such engagement processes. However, the case studies presented in this paper also evidence some innovation in engagement methods. Through this research we develop and test a non-hierarchical classification of community engagement approaches: awareness raising; consultation and empowerment. This provides a useful tool for reflecting on practices and rationales of community engagement. By considering the three approaches non-hierarchically, this model allows for an examination of how such rationales are acted on in practice.