A new direction for wind energy in Wales?

3 October 2013

Image by James Hearton via Wikipedia. Licenced under Creative Commons Licensing.

Image by James Hearton via Wikipedia. Licenced under Creative Commons Licensing.

In June 2013, wind energy developers and wind farm operators from across Wales signed up to a new Community Benefits declaration, supported by RenwableUK Cymru and the Welsh Government. The Declaration includes a promise to ensure that communities hosting wind farms are’ fully engaged and that they receive long term positive benefits’, and has been signed up to by a range of companies, including SSE, RWE, West Coast Energy and Vattenfall.

The Declaration outlines a number of forms that community benefits for those hosting wind farms could take. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Direct financial support;
  • Community ownership, profit share and shares ownership;
  • Measures or initiatives to support the reduction of energy costs;
  • The provision of new or improved local infrastructure;
  • Sponsorship or organisations, sporting and cultural events;
  •  In-kind offers such as habitat management programmes; and
  • Education or training opportunities.

The Declaration states that these are a way to bring tangible benefits to those communities hosting wind projects, over and above economic, energy security and environmental benefits that arise from those developments. Furthermore, the declaration outlines a commitment to create and participate on an on-going basis in an economic and community benefit register for Wales, working with the Welsh Government, communities and other stakeholders.

With Powys in mid-Wales currently in the midst of Britain’s biggest ever public enquiry into wind farms, can this new community benefits declaration make a difference to community perception and acceptance of wind farm developments and help them to feel more engaged in the process?

Article written by Chloe Corbyn