Extra benefits to be offered to communities near proposed wind farms

In a renewed attempt to quieten protests around the siting of new wind farms, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has announced that the Government are going to broaden benefit packages for areas that agree to have local onshore wind farms.

Such sweeteners already exist in the form of the Community Benefits Protocol through RenewableUK and these new benefits are intended to be an embellishment to those. 

black cattle eating grass near white windmill during daytime

Under the protocol developers in England with qualifying projects commit to provide £5,000 per MW of installed capacity (or equivalent benefits-in-kind) directly to host communities. The communities are free to use these funds how they wish, with examples cited including community-owned renewable energy projects, village halls, recreational facilities or equipment for local schools. These benefits are negotiated directly with host communities.

Under the new proposals the Department commit to working with RenewableUK to update the Protocol ‘to account for emerging and innovative types of community benefit packages, such as local energy bill discounts and other new and improved community rewards’.

Ideas being proposed include allowing local communities a stake in the development, thus allowing them to profit from it.

The government will also formally embed the best practice guidance that exists within the ‘Community Engagement and Benefits from Onshore Wind Developments’ document into official planning guidance for local authorities and developers. 

The statement makes it clear that onshore wind will continue to be decided at a local level, and it adds ‘today’s proposals build on a government consultation run earlier this year on how proposals demonstrate support for the onshore wind project locally and how they address impacts identified by the local community. The government is currently analysing the responses and will respond in due course.’

RenewableUK’s Head of Onshore Wind James Robottom said: ‘We’re pleased that the government is consulting on the wide range of benefits which onshore wind can offer to local communities in England. We have a long track record of working closely with communities to ensure that they decide what form these benefits will take, depending on the needs and priorities of local people.

‘Building strong relationships with local communities as early as possible is the best way to establish successful partnerships which last for decades. Alongside much-needed planning reforms, this consultation provides an opportunity to increase the amount of cheap clean power we can generate for consumers as well as strengthening our nation’s energy security.’


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