By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Scotland’s onshore wind industry now invests nearly £9 million in community projects every year – the highest amount ever – according to new figures from Local Energy Scotland.
The report shows that £8.8 million is now donated in Community Benefit payments to Scottish communities every 12 months from projects of all scales, from just 500kW to the 539MW Scottish Power Whitelee wind farm.
Recent grants have been used to build a new community hall in Daviot, Aberdeenshire, send a dance school from West Lothian to the European Street Dance Championships in Germany and to buy a thermal imaging camera so residents in Sutherland can see where their homes need extra insulation.
The details come from the constantly-updated Local Energy Scotland Community Renewables Register.
Chris Morris, Project Manager, Local Energy Scotland, said: “The Register shows not just the financial value of Community Benefit funds, providing sustainable income to Scottish communities every year, but also shows what can be achieved with the revenue.
“We strongly encourage developers and communities alike to visit the Register and browse the information available, and of course upload information of any schemes in which they are involved.”
A Scottish Renewables spokesman said: “Community Benefit payments are just a part of the overall picture here: onshore wind in Scotland is delivering clean energy and jobs and investment, as well as helping meet our 2020 climate change targets.
“Onshore wind employs almost 3,400 people in Scotland, and latest figures show that the sector invested more than £700 million in the country in the year to September 2014. Community Benefit payments, which can last for up to 20 years, are just part of that picture – but they’re a part which is increasingly important to some of Scotland’s most remote areas.”
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing commented: “These figures demonstrate how community benefits from renewables offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve people’s lives.
“Over £8.5 million invested in such diverse projects in the last year demonstrates a great level of commitment from developers, large and small, to ensuring that green energy developments harness not only the wind, but the goodwill of local communities.”