The wind power industry in England has just published a Protocol statement that will see communities living near future onshore wind farms larger than 5 MW realise significant additional economic benefits.
“We, as an industry, are committed to ensuring that a proportion of the benefits delivered by these projects are realised within the communities that live near them,” noted a study by the renewable energy trade association and EWEA member RenewableUK.
The association said on Wednesday that a community benefit scheme will receive support equivalent to a minimum value of at least £1,000 (€1,185) per megawatt of installed capacity annually.
“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,” Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, said in a press release.
The Protocol applies to onshore wind farms in England only. The Welsh and Northern Ireland versions are due to be launched later this year, the press release said, adding the Scottish Government is currently consulting on its own separate proposals for communities.
McCaffery said studies show that local and regional economies gain over £1 million (€1.18 m) per MW during the development and operational cycle of a wind farm. “The Protocol, in line with Government proposals, clearly sets out what every wind farm in the UK could bring to the local community’s table,” she concluded.
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said he welcomed the Protocol.
“I know that there are already a number of excellent examples of wind farm developers engaging positively with communities and some innovative approaches to ensuring that some of the benefits of developments remain in the local area,” Hendry said.
“It makes sense that as many communities as possible should benefit in a similar way, and should have the best possible clarity about what to expect from developers.”
The BBC reported that the “wind energy industry guarantee” will average £20,000 (€23,710) per year per project. “With the average life of a wind farm estimated at 20 years, this could add up to £400,000 (€474,410),” the BBC said.