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Matthew Horn from Bellenden gives us some food for thought...


Neither group should be neglected, however, developers need to both consider and address the individual costs associated with hosting a wind farm, and understand that these cannot simply be offset by community benefits alone.

Community benefits, mooted by the Conservatives in Opposition and now by the Coalition Government, included the, currently unlikely, return of additional business rates, the extension of community ownership of turbines and even the prospect of cheap electricity for those hosting a wind farm (although the latter is difficult to implement and is likely to increase energy consumption).

With a limited number of suitable sites and a turbulent planning system, onshore wind farm developers face a challenging future not only in England but increasingly throughout the whole of the UK. This article considers why developers need to generate support from individuals within communities, and how to do so effectively.


With the drive towards localism, developers will find it is not only the relevant local authority and the various community groups they represent that are key to achieving planning consent, but also the individuals that collectively form such a community.

Time and time again those who object to planning applications are more affluent than their local peers and as such the community benefits associated with hosting a wind farm are of little interest. Consequently, it can be hard to engage with and temper their concerns.

It can also be a very frustrating process to attempt to do so when the majority of the local population is either silently supportive or indifferent about the proposals.

Although none of these have seemingly come to fruition at the point of writing this article, the essential premise is clear; government wants to see a greater propensity towards community based benefits in return for advocating hosting a wind farm.

The question the industry needs to address, in light of the recent publication of the Localism Bill, is what can be done by the developers themselves, rather than government, to make wind farms attractive enough for the influencers and eventual decision makers to say ‘yes’ when the application is assessed?

One aspect will certainly be community initiatives, such as community benefit funds and community ownership of turbines (both supported by government and, increasingly, developers alike).

The optimal benefit scheme to be introduced on each new project is best identified through open and candid discussions with the local community about their needs and service requirements. A working plan between developer and community can be initiated and fed into by those in the local community.


The second aspect lies with the incentivisation of the individual.

Individuals who oppose developments frequently cite the interests of their community as the basis of their argument against a development, however, it is often clear that individual, personal costs form the core of opposition to wind farm construction.

Whether it is the perceived reduction of individual house prices, visual impact, shadow flicker, access routes or concern over perceived health and noise implications, the individual is aware of the potential negative effects on their own lives. A personal cost, therefore, requires a personal benefit and, more often than not, the benefit most sought after is financial gain.

The option of financial gain is likely to be key to stable support over a longer- period of time. The very nature of wind farms – i.e. continually generating revenue - places the industry in a strong position in comparison to, for example, private housing developers.

With wind farms generating revenue throughout their lifetime there is considerable potential for co-operative models and shared ownership of sites as currently seen throughout the UK and abroad.

However, individual incentivisation of both the wealthy and less affluent will be integral to the successful future of onshore wind farms.


Share options in a wind farm development, via a co-op, are increasingly available for those in a local area to purchase outright. For those who do not have the disposable income to purchase such share options - the sector of the community where developers are most likely to find their ardent support - a loan system of shares issued for hosting the wind farm could be initiated for the surrounding community. Those who cannot afford to purchase shares outright could receive a set number from a developer under a loan scheme, thus generating a lesser return but yet still essentially offering a personal incentive for hosting the wind farm.


Wind Energy NETWORK

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