Fears that almost £9m annual community funding could be lost

Onshore windfarms contributing almost £9m to community projects

WINDFARMS ARE CONTRIBUTING almost £9million each year to community projects throughout Scotland according to a study into their financial impact.

In the week when a new round of funding for communities in Moray close to the Berry Burn windfarm near Forres, a report by Local Energy Scotland (LES) has said that just over £8.8million is being paid out each year from windfarm profit sharing schemes.

Community payments are often part and parcel of planning permission being granted for the creation of windfarm projects, with LES holding a “community renewables register” that details just how much cash is being invested in good causes.

Their spokesman Chris Morris said: “The register shows not just the financial value of community benefit funds, providing sustainable income to Scottish communities every year, but also shows what can be achieved with the revenue.”

The LES report comes at a time when windfarm projects in Scotland are under threat as the UK Government have pledged to remove public subsidies for the creation of onshore windfarms.

According to Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing that would be “entirely the wrong decision”. He said: “It would undermine the UK’s credibility in vital UN climate talks — where Ms Rudd [UK Energy Secretary] and her colleagues will be representing the UK.”

Mr Ewing added: “The Scottish Government remains ambitious for the renewable energy industry and the vital contribution it makes towards tackling climate change.

“Onshore wind is the cheapest way of producing renewable electricity in the UK and it is important we continue to support this vital industry.

“With officials from the UK Government attending the climate change talks this week in Bonn it would set a terrible example and a lack of ambition to the rest of the world if they decided to end onshore subsidies at the same time.”

The latest round of community funding from the Berry Burn windfarm pumped £30,000 into community projects.