At least half of all new Scottish wind farms will have to provide a community benefits package as part of their planning applications by 2020.
This was declared by SNP MSP Stuart McMillan when he formally launched the second phase of funding for the community-owned Kellybank wind farm development near Wemyss Bay.
He said said: “It’s great news that work is about to start on the Kellybank turbines, supporting initiatives that improve employment prospects and grow a further sense of community in Inverclyde.
“And now local people have a second chance to join the co-operative and benefit directly from owning a share in these wind turbines. The impressive levels of electricity generated from wind recently are evidence that we should be investing in Scotland’s enviable potential for a clean and reliable source of energy for our future.
“The Scottish Government will ensure that by 2020 at least half of newly consented renewable energy projects will have an element of shared ownership like this one. And we will argue for Scottish control of our share of feed-in tariffs to help promote community ownership schemes.”
The Kellybank site is just above the town of Wemyss Bay, east of the Clyde estuary where the winds blow in from the islands to the west. The community fund from the Kellybank turbines will be targeted to support initiatives which improve employment prospects and which grow a sense of community in the local area.
As well as offering a stable return for members, supported by the government-guaranteed Feed-in Tariff, the 2 x 100kW project will generate a community fund of £3,000 a year (index-linked) for 20 years.
Leila Sharland, project manager at Small Wind Co-op which is developing the project, said: “Scotland is leading the way with local community-owned projects creating and supporting local jobs and generating carbon-free electricity, and this is a great opportunity for people in Inverclyde to be part of that.”
Members of the co-operative will all have an equal vote in running it and will also be able to use the energy generated in their own home, thanks to an agreement with Co-operative Energy, which has agreed to buy the electricity generated.