WIND FARMS MUST BENEFIT LOCAL COMMUNITIES
A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says more
must be done to ensure communities affected by large wind farm
developments can reap long-term benefits from such
With substantial investment and expansion of wind energy already
underway, the report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looks at the
ways any negative impacts on communities can be redressed.
It says urgent action is needed to ensure growing wind farm
expansion is matched by help for neighbouring communities, and that
the foundations are laid to help places maintain their viability in
The research outlines three key reasons why justice is important
in wind energy developments: legitimate concerns over the impact on
the environment, an unequal distribution of impacts from wind farms
on places (particularly economic), and the concentration of wind
farms disproportionately falling on disadvantaged groups.
The report says that a mechanism for deals between developers
and local people to ensure benefit for the latter must be put in
place now - before the next wave of investment takes place.
It outlines the way this can be achieved, namely through the
provision and expansion of community benefit funds, in terms of
both size and geographic scope.
An expansion of such funds would help improve the economic,
social and environmental prospects of affected areas. This is
particularly important in disadvantaged rural and coastal regions,
where the majority of wind farms have been built.
There is scope to learn from good practice across the UK where
organisations have managed to increase the level of community
benefits that developers provide.
Richard Cowell, author of the report, said: 'We are seeing the
size of community benefit funds increase in line with the growing
scale of wind farm developments. That presents a huge opportunity
to address the disadvantages faced by those living alongside wind
farms, and ensure these communities become more sustainable into
the future. What we would like to see is those living near
wind farms having locally-embedded energy and jobs, as well as
money to fund other community goals and schemes. By widening the
remit of community benefit funds, beyond the village or parish in
the direct shadow of the wind farm, more people can share in the
benefits of investment, and more significant projects can be