Scottish Government Launches Community Benefit Register

Last week the Scottish Government launched it’s new Community Benefit Register. The voluntary Register is intended to include information on renewable developments of all scales across the country and the contributions they are making to their local communities in terms of funding and support.

The Register is designed to improve the position of community groups who are engaging in negotiations with developers.Community groups will now be able to research what scale of contribution similarly sized developments elsewhere in the country and base their negotiating position accordingly.

Another stated aim of the Community Benefit Register is to encourage those undertaking small and medium scale renewable projects to engage with communities and offer community benefits. It is at this point that we would like to point out that ILI-Renewable Energy offers a community benefit as part of all of our developments. Indeed we had already engaged with local charities across the country long before the Community Benefit Register was announced.

Community Benefit schemes can come in all shapes and sizes. For instance there are new children’s playgrounds, apprenticeship schemes, graduate bursaries, charity groups and many other organisations which have received additional or essential funding as a result of renewable energy developments. Indeed, Community Benefits have proven so beneficial that some Local Authority Areas have already made them mandatory for any wind turbine development. We at ILI-Renewable Energy would like to note that we offer double the level of funding required by certain councils.

The launch of the Community Benefit Register was made by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond who stated:

“Scotland has astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources. We have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs and secure billions of pounds of investment in our economy.

“Importantly, we have a responsibility to make sure we seize these opportunities for the benefit of all Scots.

“Many communities are already reaping the benefits of green energy and the new register provides a level playing field to ensure more share in the advantages of Scotland’s vast natural resources.

“The Community Benefit Register allows 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.

“The Clyde Wind Farm being officially opened in South Lanarkshire is a good example of how the renewables revolution is good news economically for business and communities.

“Almost £22 million will be ploughed into communities across South Lanarkshire, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway over the next 25 years from the profits of their turbines.

“This register gives everyone in Scotland the information to be able to share in the opportunities new renewable energy development brings.”

Jennifer Ramsay, administrator of the Register also commented:

“It’s great to see that many developers are realising the potential of the Register, as shown by their inclusion on the website. By increasing transparency and openness in the field, both communities and developers will be better equipped to enter discussions regarding community benefits, and can maximise the mutual benefits from future schemes.

“The Register will detail the tangible benefits to communities from developments, and underline the positive changes that the funds have generated on a local level. The information is available to all, and anyone with an interest in community benefit schemes will see quickly and easily what funds are in place across Scotland.

“We are asking all developers and recipient groups to log on and submit their details on community benefits, particularly those with a more innovative funding structure. We hope to highlight the range of funding structure possibilities for community benefits from renewable energy developments on every scale, and across Scotland.”

The launch of the Register was greeted enthusiastically by the Scottish renewable energy industry. Joss Blamire, Onshore Wind Policy Manager for Scottish Renewables remarked:

“The renewables industry in Scotland has already invested many millions of pounds into communities across the country through voluntary schemes known as community benefit.

Community benefit schemes contribute towards vital projects in local areas such as new leisure facilities, education and training programmes and improvements to the local infrastructure and environment.

“This new register will help demonstrate the wide variety of benefits renewables projects are already providing local communities as well as giving practical advice to those communities wishing to learn more about how to access the benefits of renewable energy in their area.”

It is our hope that the Community Benefit Register will allow the public to see more fully the   contribution renewable energy is making to this country beyond carbon emissions, energy prices and government generation targets.

 

 

 

Scottish Government unveils new planning guidance for wind developments

A few weeks ago the Scottish Government unveiled new planning guidance for wind energy developments.

This set of best practise guidelines is intended to speed up the planning process for developers as well as making it easier for planning authorities, affected communities and developers to assess proposals.

Much of the guidance is devoted to encouraging the closer involvement of communities in proposed developments from the earliest possible stage as well as seeking to minimise environmental impacts.

The guidance has been produced as a result of the GP (Good Practise) Wind Project, a European Union project led by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Government drew up the guidelines in consultation with a number of relevant bodies including Scottish Power Renewables, the RSPB, Scottish and Southern Energy and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (the Western Isles Council).

The guidance was launched by the Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing:

“I’m delighted to launch these materials, developed with industry, planning authorities and stakeholders, which aim to make the planning process for wind developments go more smoothly for everyone involved.

“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places, and this guidance will help to ensure that – while also making sure there are fewer unsuitable applications and that communities are properly consulted and informed.

“We have set an ambitious, but achievable, renewable energy target and we are determined to ensure that communities all over Scotland benefit from our renewable energy revolution, which is already bringing jobs and investment.

“But we are determined that this should be done in a sustainable way, sympathetic to the needs of communities and protecting the environment and our fantastic natural heritage.

“This project supports our drive to promote engagement with communities and consultees from the beginning of a plan’s development.”

Representatives of the Government’s consultees also commented on the launch of the guidance. Councillor Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar stated:

“Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in the GP Wind project. As an island community on the edge of Europe, the Outer Hebrides stands to lose the most from the impacts of Climate Change but these islands are also home to one of the best wind and wave resources in Europe.

“If we are to decarbonise our energy supply, it is vital that the boundless energy resource in areas like the Outer Hebrides is accessed but that this is done in an environmentally responsible way.  In this process, we need to address and resolve the challenges which currently hamper the implementation of wind generation, on and offshore, across Europe.

“We view GPWIND as a huge step forward in building a collective understanding of these challenges and the outputs of GPWIND will help us to develop and sustain good practice, enabling our area to become a power house for Europe while sustaining and developing fragile communities.”

David Gardner, Director of SSE Renewables (onshore) remarked:

“SSE Renewables is pleased to be a partner in the Good Practice Wind Project. All development projects should be constructed and operated in a responsible way and SSE Renewables is committed to this.

“Many other countries across Europe will benefit from Scotland demonstrating a leading role in delivering good practice in renewable energy development, but we can always learn to do better, and sharing good practice across the industry in this way is a very positive step.”

Aedan Smith, the Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland commented:

“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the Scottish Government and other partners from across Europe on the GP Wind project.  Given the challenge facing wildlife and people from climate change, we support the continued development of an environmentally sustainable wind energy industry as a proven way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“However, wind energy developments must be sited and designed to avoid damaging our best places for wildlife.  The good practice guide and toolkit produced by the GP Wind project should help ensure this happens. We encourage all those involved in the development of wind energy to apply good practice in line with the guide.”

If these new guidelines are successful in speeding up the planning process for wind developments then communities up and down the country will reap the benefits.