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Scottish wind energy industry delivers record £8.8m boost to local community projects

Whitelee Wind Farm in Scotland
Whitelee Wind Farm in Scotland • Photograph: Bjmullan

Renewable energy providers are helping their local communities to reap the benefits of clean energy more than ever before, according to the Local Energy Scotland Community Renewables Register.

The wind energy industry, which dominates the list of 134 community funding providers on the register, now invests nearly £9m a year in supporting a range of local community projects, the latest data from the register shows.

In recent years, wind energy developers hafe frequently committed to pay into local ‘community benefit’ schemes in a bid to ensure the financial benefits of new projects are shared and help secure local support for projects as they strive to secure planning permission.

Renewable energy community funding programmes have supported a wide range of projects, such as local energy efficiency upgrades, community hall developments, and new childrens’ playgrounds.

Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland project manager, said the latest figures showed “not just the financial value of Community Benefit funds, providing sustainable income to Scottish communities every year, but also what can be achieved with the revenue”.

“We strongly encourage developers and communities alike to visit the Register and browse the information available, and of course upload information of any schemes in which they are involved,” he added in a statement.

The UK’s largest wind farm Whitelee, ran by ScottishPower Renewables, contributed £1,065 per megawatt per year to nearby communities through its community funding programme.

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said the Community Benefit payments are particularly valuable to communities in remote parts of rural Scotland.

“Onshore wind employs almost 3,400 people in Scotland, and latest figures show that the sector invested more than £700m in the country in the year to September 2014,” he said. Community Benefit payments, which can last for up to 20 years, are just part of that picture – but they’re a part which is increasingly important to some of Scotland’s most remote areas.”

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