Onshore wind: communities to have a greater say and increased benefits
In reading this press release from the Department of Energy & Climate Change and Department for Communities and Local Government for the United Kingdom, it causes me to wonder if we have similar schemes (as the British say)? Do the residents near onshore wind farms in the U.S. get to determine where the turbines will be located in relation to the scenic view, local heritage and the natural landscape? Do homeowners receive a reduction in their utility bills? Maybe this type of community engagement will spread across the pond and we will see more of this mutual benefit sharing here in America. The following is from Gov.UK.
Communities agreeing a medium-sized 20MW onshore wind farm could therefore receive a package of benefits worth £100,000 per year, or up to £400 a year off each household’s annual bill.
An onshore wind farm and electricity pylons/power lines near Rye, East Sussex, England. The power lines are from Dungeness Nuclear Power Station, which is just visible on the skyline behind the pylons. Credit: Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
Communities will have a greater say over the siting of onshore wind farms, and reap increased benefits from hosting developments that do proceed, as a result of changes announced by Gov.UK.
- Local communities to have earlier and better involvement
- Five-fold increase in benefits paid by developers to communities
- Stable investment framework maintained
The package of measures will include a five-fold increase in the value of community benefits paid for by developers, and proposals that will require communities to be consulted earlier in the application process.
Current planning decisions on onshore wind are not always reflecting a locally-led planning system. New planning guidance supporting the planning framework from DCLG will make clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities. It will give greater weight to landscape and visual impact concerns.
As part of the measures, the Government will make pre-application consultation with local communities compulsory for the more significant onshore wind applications (this is already the case for national infrastructure applications). This will ensure that community engagement takes place at an earlier stage in more cases and may assist in improving the quality of proposed onshore wind development.
Government will also assist local people to gain the skills they need to enable them to engage more confidently with developers.
The Government will be expecting the industry to revise its Community Benefit Protocol by the end of the year, to include an increase in the recommended community benefit package in England from £1,000/MW of installed capacity per year, to £5,000/MW/year for the lifetime of the onshore wind farm.
Communities and developers will work together to decide how the money should be used – for example, to provide households with money off their energy bills, to pay for energy efficiency initiatives, establish local training projects or fund other community initiatives.
At a scheme run by RES at their Meikle Carewe onshore wind farm near Aberdeen, local residents will receive £122 off their annual electricity bills.
“It is important that onshore wind is developed in a way that is truly sustainable – economically, environmentally and socially, and today’s announcement will ensure that communities see the windfall from hosting developments near to them, not just the wind farm. We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately sited onshore wind, as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix and committed to an evidence-based approach to supporting low carbon power. This is an important sector that is driving economic growth, supporting thousands of new jobs and providing a significant share of our electricity and I’m determined that local communities should share in these benefits,” said Secretary of State Edward Davey.
“Today, we are putting local people at the heart of decision making on onshore wind. We are changing the balance to ensure that they are consulted earlier and have more say against poorly sited or inadequately justified turbines. When new turbines are agreed upon, we will ensure that they are developed in a way that benefits the local community, such as through cheaper energy bills,” said Energy Minister, Michael Fallon.
“We want to give local communities a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of landscape, heritage and local amenity,” said Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Government will deliver these changes in collaboration with industry and communities over the next 12 months.
Onshore Wind: Increased benefits for UK Communities, is syndicated from 1Sun4All
By Amber Archangel