Community benefits from wind farms could be increased by 150% under new proposals by Argyll and Bute Council.
Residents are being asked to comment on the council’s new framework to advise on community benefits from onshore renewable developments.
The document sets out guidance that developers and communities should take into account when considering community benefits.
Community benefits are voluntary and can include financial payments or community investment in the particular renewable scheme.
The new framework suggests that payments to communities be set at £5,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity per year, advocating community buy-in to new schemes and a regional element of funding.
Regional funding is not included in the plans for a community wind farm above Helensburgh,
The framework recommends that:
- Community benefits are provided for all new renewable developments with an installed capacity of 5MW or more and commercial schemes over 50 kilowatts (KW)
- Community benefits are paid at a minimum of £5,000/MW
- All benefits are index linked and last the lifetime of the project
- A community investment option, enabling the community to purchase a share in the renewable energy development, should be offered on all new commercial renewable developments
- Community benefit funds shall include a local (50%) and regional or sub-regional element (50%). The regional/sub-regional fund will focus on delivering wider community benefit aligning to the priorities set out in community investment plans.
The council’s acting policy lead for economic development, Ellen Morton, said: ‘’While the council cannot compel developers to follow our new guidelines we will be working very closely with them and are hopeful that they will buy into these principles.
‘’Before finalising the framework we are looking for the views of members of the public, community councils, renewable groups and our other partners in the Argyll and Bute Renewables Alliance (ABRA) so that we come up with a framework which will seek to maximise the local community benefit from future on shore renewable developments and which will be of a useful reference tool for developers and communities alike.’’
‘The consultation will run until Friday March 13 and is available on the council website.
The council’s current policy recommends that community benefits are paid at £2,000/MW.