One of Scotland’s leading renewables lawyers has praised the work being carried out in community participation in renewable energy at the launch of important new guidelines for developers working with local groups on projects across the country.
David Bone, Head of Energy & Natural Resources at Harper Macleod, was speaking as Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP unveiled the Scottish Government's Good Practice Principles for Shared Ownership of Onshore Renewable Energy Developments at Harper Macleod’s Edinburgh offices last night.
The event was held in conjunction Local Energy Scotland – the body which advises communities and rural businesses on renewables schemes – which developed the document on behalf of the Scottish Government with input from an industry working group. The Principles set out expectations for developers, communities and other stakeholders, as well as providing guidance on how best to deliver shared ownership projects.
In his introduction to the Principles, Mr Ewing said the Scottish Government believed that “shared ownership should become the standard” for community participation in renewable energy.
Mr Bone, who also addressed the gathering, said: “The Scottish Government has been a great proponent of community involvement in renewable energy up to now. In the current struggle with Westminster there has never been a more important time for our Government to reiterate the support it will give to communities in helping them take a stake in projects and to ensure that the planning system and those bound by it is robust enough to take adequate cognisance of the benefits of on-shore wind schemes to local communities. This document should be a start along that route."
“We have worked closely with Local Energy Scotland and the Government on the development of these principles and look forward to seeing them implemented in schemes across the country – for the benefit of both local communities and the developers essential to drive forward these projects.”
Around 50 people from across the industry attended the launch event last night, the latest step in the Scottish Government and Local Energy Scotland’s work to encourage collaborative projects by giving support to both community groups and renewable energy developers, and promote the importance of developers working with communities in Scotland.
Jennifer Ramsay, Assistant Programme Manager at Local Energy Scotland said: "Delivering a shared ownership project can be a complex and challenging process, and we hope that these principles will help to support in overcoming these challenges. With the support available through CARES, including start-up grants and framework financial contractors, we believe that shared ownership projects can become the norm, as is the aspiration of the Scottish Government."
The final principles are now available at www.localenergyscotland.org/goodpractice, alongside community benefit counterparts.