Community benefits from renewables

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A new public register to help communities get the most from renewable energy projects will be established next year.

The register will include details of community benefits agreed with renewable energy developers across Scotland, helping communities make a comparison with similar developments to inform negotiations.

It will also encourage rural businesses undertaking small wind projects on farms and estates to engage with their communities and consider community benefit.

Currently, most large-scale commercial developers pay community benefits when they set up renewable energy projects and this has enabled communities to invest in a variety of projects, such as improving energy efficiency in local homes, children’s playgrounds or graduate bursaries.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing made the announcement at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in Edinburgh, where First Minister Alex Salmond was crowned Best Politician.

Mr Ewing said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that communities all over Scotland benefit from Scotland’s vast natural resources. Many communities are already reaping the benefits from green energy.

“This new register will allow local communities to enter negotiations with developers – from those putting up single turbines on farms and estates to those building the largest schemes – on an even footing. An established renewables developer will always know what the ‘going rate’ for community benefits is – but a community which has never negotiated before, and those rural businesses developing for the first time, may not. This register will give everyone in Scotland the information to be able to share in the opportunities new renewable energy development brings.”

Mr Ewing also called on the UK Government to delay implementing proposed changes to the solar panel feed in tariff. He continued:

“The growing market for microgeneration is allowing more and more households, communities and businesses to generate their own energy, so I am very concerned at the damage being done by the UK Government’s rushed cut in the tariff for solar energy.

“The UK Government must address the chaos caused to businesses and customers by the December 12 deadline. I have raised this with UK Ministers and I will be meeting with businesses in Scotland in the near future to hear their concerns directly.”

Details of the register will be established by the Scottish Government’s Community Renewables Implementation Group.  The register will be administered under the Scottish Government’s community and renewable energy scheme, and will open from April 2012.