The UK Government yesterday (11 May) set out new proposals to improve reward schemes offered to communities living locally to onshore wind farms.
Recognising that decisions on onshore wind are “best made by local representatives who know their areas best” the proposals build on benefits already offered through the Government’s Energy Security Strategy.
The more localised approach of the new proposals could include the potential for lower bills offered by developers to communities in England who support onshore wind farms in their area.
“Onshore wind is a vital part of our plans to deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more secure homegrown energy,” said Graham Stuart, minister for energy security and net zero.
“It is right that new developments have the support of host communities, and that local people benefit directly from it, such as through either a discount on their energy bills or other significant community benefits.”
“Our proposals will ensure developers and local residents can work together more efficiently to maximise community benefits for supportive communities while delivering the clean and secure energy the country needs.”
The new proposals include:
- Formally embedding best practise principles of engagement between developers and communities into official planning guidance.
- Working with RenewableUK to update its Community Benefits Protocol for England to account for emerging community benefits packages including local energy bills discounts.
The community benefits would be agreed between developers and communities on a case-by-case basis.
The cost of onshore wind has fallen drastically – by roughly 50% according to the UK Government – and the technology has received increasing support; in March 2023, 58% of Conservatives voters voted for more onshore wind.
With growing recognition of the significant role onshore wind will have to play in the UK’s energy security, the Government has said that to bolster the uptake of the technology, communities that host onshore wind farm need to directly benefit from it.
“We’re pleased that the Government is consulting on the wide range of benefits which onshore wind can offer to local communities in England. We have a long track record of working closely with communities to ensure that they decide what form these benefits will take, depending on the needs and priorities of local people,” said head of onshore wind at RenewableUK, James Robottom.
“Building strong relationships with local communities as early as possible is the best way to establish successful partnerships which last for decades. Alongside much-needed planning reforms, this consultation provides an opportunity to increase the amount of cheap clean power we can generate for consumers as well as strengthening our nation’s energy security.”
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