08 March 2011
New community funds to encourage people to adopt wind energy could bring real benefits for budget-hit local communities, says the founder of Britain’s biggest independent green energy company.
Dale Vince OBE, founder of Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity, says the initiative, agreed between the Coalition government and the wind energy industry last week, though designed to encourage people to support local wind projects, will actually also be a way to replace lost government funding for community facilities such as, libraries, youth projects, and sports halls.
It could even mean communities could soon be seeking to attract wind energy projects to their area, as has already happened in other parts of Europe1.
Under the Government-led initiative, Ecotricity will create a Community Fund of £1000 per MW or typically £2,000 per large windmill, per year – for up to 25 years. And the Government will also contribute by allowing the local authority to keep the rates paid by the wind energy project, rather than them going to central government as they do now. Local people would then apply for funding for projects and also have a say on what best to spend the money on in their local area.
Although the new scheme only applies to projects that go into the planning process after 16 May 2011, Ecotricity is pledging to create a Community Fund for its local four windmill Berkeley Vale wind park in Gloucestershire, if it is consented by the District Council.
Local wind projects already bring in local and regional benefit to communities of around £1 million pounds per MW over a 20 year lifetime (£2 million per large windmill per year), according to calculations by wind energy industry body Renewable UK, who launched the initiative with government last week.
This means that the proposed scheme at Berkeley Vale could bring some £10 million into the local community in its lifetime. That’s some serious funding.
Dale Vince OBE, founder of Ecotricity, said:
“We’re keen to do whatever we can to make onshore wind energy work, and we share the coalition government’s vision that onshore wind energy it is essential to Britain’s energy future.
“With all the current talk of libraries, community centres and sports halls being closed because of government cuts , here’s a great way for local communities to replace that funding. Local wind projects will from now on not just bring the benefits of local green electricity, but also the funding of vital social projects that government cuts would otherwise shut down.”
Ecotricity is calling on the government to extend the new scheme to operational wind projects – it seems quite unfair that the 3,000 or so existing windmills in Britain should not be bringing the same kinds of local benefits as new windmills will – those communities that have already accepted wind energy are losing out.
Ecotricity is also calling on the government to extend this scheme to other forms of energy, such as a new nuclear or coal-fired power stations, to acknowledge the impact they also have on their local communities. Residents of Somerset, say, could benefit from a very healthy £3.2 million a year from EDF Energy’s proposed Hinkley C nuclear plant, a sum that would replace a lot of budget cuts.
Notes to Editors
Yearly potential value of community benefit across energy industry, at £1000 per MW installed
|Site||Status||MW Capacity||Community payment @ £1,000 per MW per year|
|Hinkley C Nuclear, Somerset||Proposed||3260MW||£3.26million|
|Oldbury Nuclear, Gloucestershire||Proposed||3300MW||£3.3million|
|Severnside Gas Plant, near Bristol||Proposed||950MW||£950,000|
|Tyne Biomass Power Plant||Proposed||295MW||£295,000|
|Kingsnorth New Coal Plant||On Hold||1600MW||£1.6million|
For more information, please contact: Mike Cheshire, Ecotricity Tel: (01453) 761373 or email@example.com
Ecotricity was founded 15 years’ ago as the world’s first green electricity company, and is a social enterprise with no shareholders to answer to. It is thus able to re-invest the money from customers’ bills back into building more new sources of renewable energy.
It supplies over 45,000 homes and businesses in the UK with Green Electricity and Green Gas, and is supported in its work by Oxfam and the Soil Association