Wind farm developers issue 'promise to Welsh communities'
Onshore wind farm developers and operators in Wales have signed a declaration committing them to ensure communities hosting arrays receive long-term positive benefits.
Supported by the Welsh arm of renewables association RenewableUK and the Welsh Government, the commitment aims to ensure developers have a consistent and best practice approach to engagement with communities and to ensure that economic and community benefits are maximised.
The initial signatories of the Declaration are Amegni, REG Wind Power, RES, RWE Npower Renewables, SSE, Tegni Cymru Cyf, Vattenfall, West Coast Energy and RenewableUK Cymru.
RenewableUK Cymru deputy director Llywelyn Rhys expects more developers will sign the declaration in the coming weeks.
"The Declaration is a first for the wind industry in Wales. It is a promise to Welsh communities by wind farm developers that they will work with them to maximise the positive long-term impacts that community benefit funds will bring to the local areas and wider region," he said.
Rhys added: "The principle of community benefits is vitally important to the viability and ethos of the wind energy industry in Wales. This is an opportunity for the industry to build on its history of engagement and contributions and ensure that communities are empowered to make investment decisions that reflect their priorities."
The Scottish Government Register of Community Benefit from Renewables was launched in September 2012, and yesterday it was announced that voluntary community benefits paid by Scottish wind farm operators had reached £5m a year.
A Community Benefit Register for Wales is now being developed, which the Government claims will ensure greater transparency as everyone will be able to see and track the impact of benefits to communities and to the wider economy.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring that communities affected by energy developments genuinely see the benefits of those developments. This declaration is a way of bringing tangible benefits to communities across Wales which host wind projects."