With more and more commercial renewable energy development throughout Scotland, there is a move to see benefits going to the local communities most affected by these developments.
Local benefits from external privately owned renewables schemes can take several forms:
The following are examples of typical benefits that are offered:
These benefits should be written into any agreements for community benefit made between the community and developer.
Most private developers opt to provide local benefit through options 1 and 4, community benefit payments and broader benefits as these are seen as simpler than offering a community or local buy in to the project, and the private developer can retain full control of the development.
Community benefit payments are not mandatory in Scotland and therefore vary across developments. Payment levels are usually down to negotiations between the developer and the community. Some local authorities require a community benefit payment per Megawatt of installed capacity as part of the planning conditions for commercial-scale renewable energy developments, e.g. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The Scottish Government has set up a voluntary Register of community benefits from renewables, hosted by Local Energy Scotland, to provide additional information to aid negotiations. Some agencies are keen to see these benefits going to the
Commercial developers vary their approach to the management of community benefit funds although these tend to mirror the models for fund management mentioned earlier.