For the first time ever, the Scottish Government’s Register of Community Benefits has shown that £20m worth of community benefits have been recorded by Scottish communities and renewable energy businesses in a 12 month period.
The Register of Community Benefits, maintained by Local Energy Scotland, details the voluntary arrangements offered by renewable energy businesses to communities located near onshore renewables developments such as wind farms and are often a valuable source of funding for local communities.
During the last 12 months records added to the register now show that more than 240 renewable energy projects across Scotland are benefitting communities. Monies are used to secure long-term benefits including investing in more renewable energy projects of their own, alleviating fuel poverty, creating sustainable transport schemes, and improving green spaces and parks.
To support more communities to benefit, Local Energy Scotland recently launched a new, free Community Benefits Toolkit, developed in partnership with Foundation Scotland, and is available on the Local Energy Scotland website.
Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland Manager, said: “We know that community benefits make a real and transformational difference to communities, and it’s great to see this landmark milestone being reached.
“The amount of benefit that these payments offer really goes to show their worth, but we appreciate it can be hard to know where to start if groups are thinking of taking advantage of them.”
The Community Benefits Toolkit was designed to make it even easier for communities to secure, set up and manage funds and wider packages of community benefits from renewable energy schemes. Local Energy Scotland’s local development officers offer specialist advice and support to help communities plan for and manage these benefits to maximise their impact and achieve a legacy that lasts.
Morag Watson is Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, a member organisation that works to grow Scotland’s renewable energy sector and sustain its position at the forefront of the global clean energy industry.
Morag said: “Renewable energy is transforming communities across Scotland, providing enormous economic, environmental and social benefits to some of the country’s most remote areas.
“Scottish Renewables is committed to ensuring those positive impacts are maximised, with voluntary community benefit payments being just one part of that process. It is fantastic news that £20 million of community benefit payments has been made to communities across the country in the past 12 months.
“Scotland’s renewable energy industry looks forward to continued engagement with communities as we work towards our ambitious net-zero target.”