RenewableUK, the UKs leading renewable energy trade association, has published today the details of the industrys Protocol on payments from wind farms to community benefit funds. The Protocol specifies a £1,000 minimum payment per year per megawatt of installed wind power during the lifetime of the wind farm.
The decision on how the funds will be allocated will rest with the community living in the vicinity of the wind farm. There are a number of community benefit funds already set up around wind farms in the UK, but now the industry has formalised the approach to community benefits with the backing of RenewableUKs members and Board of Directors.
Maria McCaffery MBE, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said: The wind industry has voluntarily and with the full backing of key stakeholders and Government, adopted a Protocol setting out what cash benefits should accrue to communities living near onshore wind farms. There are a number of ways communities across the UK benefit economically from onshore wind, both in terms of business and employment, but community benefits have a special role to play, as they are distributed according to the wishes of the local community itself.
In addition to the current proposals the Government has also supported RenewableUKs initiative to allow host communities to retain the business rates paid by onshore wind farms in England. This would mean that the local council will keep business rates paid by the wind farm operator, in addition to the community living near the wind farm receiving community benefit funding.
Our ongoing study of the economic benefits of onshore wind clearly indicates that the local and regional economy gains over £1 million per MW during the development and operational cycle of a wind farm. We also know that our unparalleled wind resource is the best in Europe and already supplies over 10% of electricity in Scotland and more than 4% in the UK as a whole. The Protocol, in line with Government proposals, clearly sets out what every wind farm in the UK could bring to the local communitys table, concluded McCaffery.