Using a “community tariff” to share the financial benefits of renewable energy generation with local communities is one of nine ideas in a new LGA report on how councils could help Britain meet its carbon target of an 80% emissions cut by 2050. The report coincides with a major government white paper today outlining the energy and climate change policies that will enable the UK to hit its greenhouse gas targets.
The LGA admits that green energy developments can provide no financial benefits for local communities, “often leading to local opposition for developments such as wind farms”. Surveys suggest over 80% of the public support wind farms but also many onshore applications have run into planning disputes. The world’s biggest turbine maker, Vestas, blamed the British planning process for the closure of the country’s only major turbine manufacturing plant earlier this summer.
Councils are already implementing schemes to reward residents for local renewable energy development, with Kettering Borough Council planning to offer energy efficiency measures for residents from a £10,000 annual fund paid for by the Burton Wold wind farm.
Chris Tomlinson, director of programme strategy at the British Wind Energy Association, said he supported the idea: “Offering benefits to local communities for hosting wind farms is the right way forward. While benefits for wind farms can be local, they are generally national and global, so it’s right to financially reward local communities.”
Richard Buxton, an environmental solicitor who has worked on behalf on many anti-wind campaigners, said, “The problem with wind is you often have two or three turbines which annoy a disproportionately large number of local people, usually to the benefit of one farmer.
“People put a very high value in financial terms on their local environment, which includes their landscape and noise. It’s not very good being told you get £5 off your energy bill if you’re being forced to leave your house because of turbines.”
The LGA also argued that streamlining the government’s myriad green home schemes – such as the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT), the Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP) and Warm Front – into a single £7bn fund could enable councils to lag every loft in the country. Councils could offer savings of up to £2bn through economies of scale by doing street-by-street schemes, it said.
Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said: “Too much money is being wasted on a raft of green schemes and people who need help insulating their homes are not getting it. It is only councils that have both the knowledge of a local area and a strong connection with households.”
Other ideas in the report, entitled From Kyoto to Kettering, Copenhagen to Croydon, include offering relief on stamp duty for new-build homes that meet the highest energy efficiency standards, requiring utilities to work with councils during the national roll-out of smart meters, and greater energy-saving help for remote rural communities.