A new Government report published on Thursday calls on wind energy developers to work with communities in a fairer, more transparent way and to increase their level of investment in surrounding communities.
The report comes as a new CPRE investigation finds that most large wind farm schemes in England continue to offer local communities only a tiny fraction of the millions of pounds of profit that developers make from public subsidies and electricity sales to the grid.
Wind farm developers in England also continue to offer consistently lower levels of community investment than in Scotland.
Paul Miner, Senior Planning Campaigner at CPRE, says: “The Government’s report is a good start towards getting a fairer deal for rural England from major new renewables development. But if the industry thinks that it can go on doing the bare minimum, then it should think again.
“The Government is right to make clear that community investment should only be considered once planners have decided whether the development is in the right place. If it is considered to be in an acceptable location, developers should be much more prepared to share the large profits that they are guaranteed from a major new wind farm.
“They should also offer investment focused strictly on green energy and ways to reduce the demand for energy in the longer term. Any other financial contribution, such as offering reduced energy bills to people who happen to own homes nearby, risks being seen as a form of bribery and won’t move us towards a greener future.”
CPRE welcomes the Government’s plans to introduce mandatory pre-planning application consultation. For large wind developments that have gained planning permission, CPRE wants to see contributions made to transparent programmes of community investment in a low carbon future.
This could incorporate some of the best practice from current community benefit schemes, such as those that have led to investment in energy efficiency and other renewable technologies.