MSPs welcome new renewables guidance

Christian Allard MSP.
Christian Allard MSP.

First Minister Alex Salmond and North East MSP Christian Allard have welcomed the Scottish Government’s move to improve community benefit from renewables developments.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP has announced the adoption of a set of principles designed to maximise community benefit from onshore renewable developments. The move will assist in attaining the ambitious target of 500 megawatts of community and locally owned renewables by 2020.

The key principle is the promotion of community investment at a rate equivalent to energy production. This should be at least £5000 per Megawatt per year, index linked to inflation.

A 20 Megawatt windfarm of eight turbines, for example, would generate at least £100,000 a year for the local community.

Other principles in the guidance include encouraging developers to submit information on potential community benefits as early in the development process as possible.

A short-term industry working group has also been established to develop further guidance to encourage community investment in commercial renewables schemes.

Alex Salmond MSP and Christian Allard MSP have highlighted the Udny Community Trust development in the North-east as a good example of how community ownership of renewable energy projects can benefit the local area.

Commenting, Mr Salmond said: “This announcement is a welcome step on the way to achieving the very ambitious goals we have set for the country on climate change and renewables output.

“It is a fundamental aim of our bid to boost renewables that communities see the benefit. We are fortunate to be rich in natural resources in the north east and it is only right and proper that the communities of the north east see benefits from that abundance.

“The development at Udny is a fantastic example of community ownership of a renewables project. It has ploughed thousands of pounds back into the community and I hope we will see more of its kind in the near future.”

Christian Allard added: “I warmly welcome the Scottish Government’s further commitment to maximising community benefit from onshore renewable developments.

“The windfarm run by Udny Community Trust is a prime example of how a renewable project can prove very beneficial for the local community.

“The guidance details good practice principles and will help towards empowering communities investing in schemes like this.”