Scottish and Welsh Energy ministers issue joint warning to UK Govt. on threat to community renewable projects

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland left visits hydro power workers at Loch Dubh power station, near Ullapool, after the Scottish Government held a cabinet meeting in the town today.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister of Scotland (left) meets hydro power workers at Loch Dubh power station, near Ullapool, after the Scottish Government held a cabinet meeting in the town.

The lack of discussion from the UK Government on support for renewable energy is likely to cause disruption to community energy projects.

These concerns have been highlighted today in a joint letter from the Scottish and Welsh Governments to the UK Government.

The letter comes after the UK Government’s decision to close the Renewables Obligation early and many projects, both private and community owned, remain unclear on what impact this will have for their developments.

The letter reiterated both government’s commitment to community renewables and warned that community projects are likely to be hit harder by the impact of the UK Government’s decision Highlighted that local supply chains are likely to suffer

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Local ownership gives communities more control over their own energy and will help us tackle challenges like grid constraints and fuel poverty – while at the same time sparking economic revival.

“There are many communities which have invested significant amounts of money in renewables schemes and have now found the goal posts have been moved, putting crucial investment and jobs at risk.

“On the Isle of Lewis we have the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK at 9MW. This will generate around £1 million each year for the local community who will decide how to spend that money.

“However, potentially the future of other projects like this could be under threat as a result of the recent announcements by the UK Government, and it will be tragic if these opportunities are lost to future communities.

“We will continue to discuss with the UK Government ways that community schemes with shared ownership can be encouraged under all support schemes and in the meantime, the Scottish Government will continue to support community energy schemes using the powers available to us.”

Wales’ Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant added:: “Community energy is a key priority for both our governments and we feel very strongly that those communities who have invested heavily, in time, money and commitment, in a cleaner energy future, are deserving of this consideration.

“Your officials’ analysis of both the introduction of the restrictions for onshore wind under the Renewables Obligation (RO) and the cancellation of pre-accreditation for the Feed in Tariff (FiT) both state that you are unable to assess the likely impact.

“We could certainly have helped in this assessment, and indeed as recently as last month, officials from the Welsh Government offered support in providing information from our own schemes to help in the analysis to support the planned FiT consultation.

“However, we consider that the lack of discussion and advance notice will have an impact that is far more disruptive than was necessary. “

Both Ministers want see that the future direction for energy is one of local generation and supply, based on renewable sources, and smart storage and local grid management, with significant local benefit.

Their letter added: “The current proposals will significantly damage the prospects for this future if the local ownership and benefits of projects are not considered within the support regime.

“We very much hope that this letter will establish a meaningful dialogue about potential mechanisms for continuing to support the development of community capacity, community benefit, and the supply chain capacity, in order to deliver on this future.”

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