How can communities benefit from nearby wind farms? The government is keen to hear views on this, and have issued a ‘call for evidence’ – the deadline is this Thursday 15 November.
I’ve written a discussion paper for Co-operatives UK which argues that the best form of community benefit is community ownership. Through an ownership stake in the project, communities gain real engagement, proper understanding of the industry and technology, and a financial stake in its success.
There are some great examples of this happening already. Infinergy is working with community group TRESOC to develop the Totnes Community Wind Farm, currently in planning. Energy4All have developed several projects with commercial developer Falck, to establish local co-operatives owning a stake in each development, like the Boyndie Wind Farm.
But such good examples are still few and far between, and the big energy companies have yet to offer community ownership options to local people.
We think the government should make it clear that they expect commercial developers to offer ownership options to local communities, and the paper sets out a suggestion for how this could be done.
I’d be interested to know what you think. And feel free to use and quote the discussion paper in your own submissions.