7. Community Benefits
Scotland is leading the way in the approach taken to community benefits. This is demonstrated in our ' Good Practice Guidance on Community Benefits from Onshore Renewable Projects', published by the Scottish Government in 2014.
The guidance is a practical guide and seeks to bring transparency into the process. It includes information on:
- basic principles of community benefits
- community investment;
- other forms of community benefit;
- identification of the community;
- public consultation on community benefits schemes;
- supporting effective fund spend;
- fund administration and governance; and
- ongoing role of the developer.
The guidance has been well received by industry and other key stakeholders, and has been praised both nationally and internationally. Both the UK and Welsh Governments have adopted the approach, which has helped to transform practice across the UK.
As well as the guidance, our public register of community benefits which is available on the Local Energy Scotland website, allows developers and communities to provide details of their community benefit deals and how the funding is supporting a wide range of local community projects.
We are pleased that the vast majority of developers now complete the register as a matter of course and see the value in being open and transparent. It is a 'win-win' for all involved.
Community benefits remain a valuable source of income for those communities that are located near developments. As at December 2016 there were 159 registered schemes, showing over £10 million paid out to communities in the last 12 months.
Good practice guidance supports spend designed locally to meet local needs. Projects currently supported are diverse - from installing a new community hall to funding a community car club.
We recognise however that the uncertainty around finding a route to market, might make it tempting for developers to reduce their community benefits offer. We will continue to seek developments that continue to offer community benefits.
It might be that for schemes being developed in the future new community benefit packages will be required to reflect new business models. These might include new tariffs for energy consumers near local generation. We are open to working with developers as these new models emerge, but we do not consider that the solution is to cease community benefits outright.
The onshore wind industry has come a long way and has gained trust and credibility in seeking to work with communities in an open and transparent manner. In order to maintain public faith it is important that the transformation that has taken place is maintained and built on and that community benefits are seen as an integral part of new onshore wind schemes, but can adapt to change in circumstances.
We are on the cusp of the next generation of onshore wind and there is an opportunity for Scotland to continue to show leadership in how we develop onshore wind:
- one that engages early with local communities;
- one that treats communities as a valuable partners; and
- one where communities can reap real benefits.
Repowering and shared ownership are examples of where new models might emerge and we are keen to hear your views on how Scotland can continue to lead the way in making community benefits an integral part of the next generation of onshore wind in Scotland.
The Good Practice Guidance will be revised following the publication of the final Scottish Energy Strategy to reflect the views expressed as part of the consultation.
Carrick Futures has been set up specifically to administer the funds from Scottish Power Renewables Mark Hill and Arecleoch wind farms, and has been running since 2011.
A decision to sit alongside the local economic development plan was made at an early stage, to reflect the aims and needs of the community, and this has been well received to date. Successful projects have included:
- a community magazine;
- funding for Girvan Youth Trust's Music festival, organised by young people with young performers;
- playgroups in the area have been able to develop and expand;
- path maintenance;
- football equipment for clubs, including strips, equipment and training; and
- fishing clubs, and support with their Environmental Impact Assessment.
Girvan's Festival of Light and Lantern Parade celebrates different local themes each year and involves social workshop and school sessions, in lantern making, dance and musical theatre. It culminates in a light procession through Girvan followed by a fire and light display on Girvan Beach and then the annual fireworks extravaganza. Available as a free event to the whole community, the funding for this is provided by Carrick Futures and community benefit from another local wind farm. This encourages young people to get involved in arts and crafts, and brings the community together.
7.1 Are our Good Practice Principles for community benefits from onshore renewable energy developments doing what they set out to achieve?
7.2 Are packages of community benefits that were agreed in partnership with communities, being delivered in practice?
Email: Debbie Kessell