Communities are becoming more engaged than ever with their energy, from hosting projects, education initiatives and energy efficiency programmes, to developing joint venture initiatives and reaping the benefits of local developments.
There are exciting opportunities open to those looking to generate their own power, and for those looking to develop local community schemes such as the successful Westmill Wind Farm, which is 100 per cent community owned.
Onshore wind provides many environmental, social and economic benefits, including the provision of local facilities, energy efficiency measures, significant job creation, education and training, energy security and inward investment.
Research conducted by RenewableUK on onshore wind farms has shown that for each installed megawatt (MW), around £100,000 stays in the community and surrounding areas during the lifetime of a project.
The industry works closely with the government, councils, local communities and wider interest groups, to ensure benefits associated with wind energy developments are felt by those who live locally. In 2013 RenewableUK updated its 2011 Community Benefits Protocol to cement the industry’s commitment to local communities in England. Initiatives have also been developed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
RenewableUK continues to work closely with the government, and other groups, to look at different community engagement processes and community benefits across the UK. In February this year, RenewableUK was asked by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to lead a Shared Ownership Taskforce comprised of community energy groups and industry representatives. This Taskforce has been asked to provide a voluntary framework for shared ownership of onshore renewable energy projects by summer 2014. The Taskforce’s Draft Report is out for consultation until 29 August and is expected to finally report in September.