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Value of Community Benefit Likely to Treble by 2017

10 December 2013

Foundation Scotland has today published a report ‘Taking Stock’ on the current and future financial value of community benefit funds in Scotland from onshore wind farm developments.

The independent research commissioned by Foundation Scotland highlights the scale of opportunity with the current annual figure of almost £7M likely to treble by 2017.

The figures are based on data for operational wind farms plus developments under construction or which have received consent. Projecting forward to wind farm developments currently in the planning system and those being scoped, this amount could be closer to £50M by 2020. When compared to other funds such as LEADER, which invested approximately £10M annually between 2007 and 2012, it is clear that community benefit funds are becoming a significant resource in some areas.

Foundation Scotland considers that communities should have a central role in deciding how these funds are used and administered. Foundation Scotland hopes that a clearer picture of the scale of these funds across Scotland will help drive improvements in the way they are established in order to secure long term sustainable development outcomes in communities.

Foundation Scotland’s Head of Community Investment, Rachel Searle-Mbullu, says, “These funds are an incredible opportunity for some of Scotland’s communities. It’s unprecedented for communities to have a reliable long term income stream not hampered by significant amounts of red tape. But it’s critical that funds achieve impact and legacy for the communities involved, and that can’t just be left to chance. We hope this report helps achieve greater shared understanding of the scale of both the challenge and opportunity. Certainly we are keen for better dialogue between developers, communities and statutory bodies about how to better address some of the challenges. We have held two seminars during the past year to provide communities with a platform to share experience and best practice in setting up and managing these funds, and we are developing our work in this area.”

She adds, “Our research though was conducted and written prior to recent UK Government announcements of reduced subsidies for onshore wind and it is important to acknowledge that the impact of this on projects and associated funds is uncertain.”

Since 2008 Foundation Scotland has worked with a diverse range of community groups and commercial wind farm developers to provide support and guidance on community benefit funds. The Foundation’s approach puts communities in the driving seat but recognises that additional human resources and expertise is sometimes needed. Alongside its consultancy and fund management services Foundation Scotland is continuing to develop a platform to share and disseminate experience in this field amongst communities, developers and others.

Kathryn Harries, UK Community Investment Officer, RWE said, “This useful report highlights the scale of investment involved and emphasises the need for developers to work closely with communities and other key stakeholders to ensure these benefits are maximised. Some communities have been in receipt of community funds for many years resulting in a bank off experience that can be shared and built on resulting in new and beneficial approaches, as demonstrated by the ‘Caithness Conversation’ study commissioned by RWE and facilitated by Foundation Scotland earlier this year.”

Claire Addison, Head of Communications, AES adds, “The numbers are certainly impressive. It’s a useful document for highlighting the need for community involvement in deciding the structure of funds and area of benefit.”

Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager, Scottish Renewables commented, “It’s fantastic to see that onshore wind developers continue to work with communities to provide for local causes in Scotland with this level of voluntary funding every year.

“We hope the recent protocol introduced by Scottish Renewables for developers to offer £5,000 per MW, combined with the public register of community benefits, will bring a greater degree of transparency and consistency with community benefit packages offered across Scotland.

“We know our members are already providing communities with a range of opportunities to invest in projects and initiatives that matter most to them and the work Foundation Scotland has undertaken shows that there could be a lot more to come.”


For further information please contact:

Jan Torrance m: 07780 564449 or email: alternatively contact Jacqui Morris m: 07718772726 or email

Notes to Editors

Community Benefit

Community benefit funds are typically annual payments provided to the community or communities that are impacted by large scale commercial developments. While not unique to onshore wind farms funds are commonly provided in relation to such developments and increasingly expected by the communities local to them. Funds are usually provided once a wind farm is operation for the duration of electricity generation, usually around 25 years.
The current annual aggregate value of community benefit funds from onshore wind farms available to communities across Scotland is £6.92M. Communities within the south west Scotland NUTS2 region currently received the highest level of funds, followed by the Highlands and Islands and East Scotland NUTS2 regions. The average annual rate of community benefit funds provided per megawatt of installed capacity of a wind farm has increased from £672 for wind farms commissioned before 2005 to £2,111 for wind farms commissioned since 2010.

(Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics are geographical areas defined by the European Union for statistical and comparative purposes. Scotland has 4 regions at NUTS2 level.)

The forthcoming Scottish Government guidelines will state £5000 per megawatt of installed capacity per annum as a minimum. The projected values contained in the report for wind farms still in planning are based on this level.

Foundation Scotland The Foundation is one of the largest distributors of community benefit funds in Scotland with a track record of administering monies arising from 28 of the country’s 80 operational onshore wind farms. Foundation Scotland acts as an intermediary, working on behalf of both renewable energy companies and local communities where third party support and facilitation adds value to the process of establishing and operating a fund.

In addition, Foundation Scotland provides bespoke consultancy services in the field of wider community benefit policy and/or practice as well as convening learning opportunities with different stakeholder groups and disseminating findings.

Caithness Conversation

The Conversation facilitated discussions between community members, businesses and other key local stakeholders about how funds can best be used to benefit Caithness communities. With other renewable developers investing locally and various other funding avenues also available the outcome of the research is expected to be extremely useful in helping communities identify and plan how and where to direct such funding. The report can be downloaded at /community-benefit/platform-for-dialogue/caithness-conversation.aspx

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