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29 June 2010

Scotland aims to boost community-owned renewable projects

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Edinburgh wants local wind farms owned by local people.

The Scottish government has announced new proposals designed to make it easier for communities and land owners to invest in renewable energy projects, such as wind farms or small-scale hydroelectric systems.

Environment secretary Richard Lochhead announced late last week that the government is to commission a new feasibility study that will address how to help locally owned renewable energy projects overcome initial funding barriers.

The report, which is being undertaken by the Scottish Agricultural College in conjunction with Community Energy Scotland, will look at plans for a new loan scheme that would provide farmers, landowners and renewable energy developers with the funding required to complete pre-planning work.

"During the last few months I have listened to stakeholders including landowners, farmers, local business and communities who all wish to develop and own renewable energy projects using our abundant natural resources," said Lochhead. "[But] a major stumbling block identified by all these groups is access to finance at the high-risk pre-planning stage where they are still at risk of being turned down."

He added that the government was committed to delivering an expansion of locally owned renewable energy projects.

Renewable energy developers have argued that community-owned wind farms and other projects tend to face less opposition during the planning stage as the local community knows that it will generate revenue from the project.

The UK government has also signaled that it would like to see an increase in locally owned renewable energy projects and the Conservatives included proposals in their manifesto that would allow communities that support wind farms to keep some of the business rates generated by such projects.


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