Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced the adoption of a set of principles designed to maximise community benefit from onshore renewable energy developments.
These principals will help the Scottish Government deliver the 500 megawatts of community and locally owned renewables target by 2020.
The finalised Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit from Onshore Renewable Developments have now been published, following a period of consultation.
The key principle is the promotion of a national community benefits package rate equivalent to at least £5,000 per Megawatt per year, index linked to inflation for the operational lifetime of the development. So for example, a 20 Megawatt windfarm of eight turbines will generate at least £100,000 a year for the local community.
Another key component of the guidance encourages renewable energy developers to submit information on potential community benefits as early in the development process as possible. This is considered a vital step in allowing time for the community to consider properly and to develop ideas for implementation of the community benefit package.
In addition, as part of the Principles Mr Ewing has announced that Government will work in partnership with Scottish Renewables to set up a short-term industry working group to develop guidance to encourage community investment in commercial renewables schemes.
This is with a view to maximising the opportunity for communities to invest directly in local commercial schemes. To date communities involved in benefit schemes have reaped over £5.6 million for local projects and developments.
Speaking this morning at the 5th Annual Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference, Mr Ewing said:
“Community benefits from renewable energy offer a unique and unprecedented opportunity to communities across Scotland. Today, I can confirm that there is now around 285 megawatts of such capacity operational across Scotland. That puts us well over half way towards the target, and represents an increase of 40 per cent on the previous year’s figure.
“The Good Practice Principles is a landmark moment in encouraging developers to invest in community benefit schemes arising from renewables development and overall contribute to our target.
“This Guidance has drawn mainly on experience from the onshore wind sector but the Scottish Government would like to see community benefits promoted across all renewables technologies.
“This document details good practice principles and procedures promoted by Scottish Government, and is intended as a practical guide to the process but also, through examples of what is already being achieved, as a showcase to inspire success.
“Featured schemes include the Allt Dearg Community Wind Farm, which, through partial community-ownership, generated £130,000 for the Ardrishaig Community Trust in the first nine months of operation to September 2013, and which is expected to generate £100,000 in annual income to the Trust.
“The Scottish Government is very keen to see other communities get the chance to invest in local developments like this, and that is why as part of the Principles we have set up a short-term industry working group to develop guidance to encourage community investment in commercial renewables schemes.”
•The Good Practice Guidelines are available to view through the attached link