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.
In February 2014, 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 to develop a voluntary framework for shared ownership of onshore renewable energy projects. The Taskforce reported in November 2014 and RenewableUK continues to work closely with the government, and other stakeholders in taking these framework recommendations forward.
The Shared Ownership Taskforce has published the following report to DECC: