Creating Projects that are Good for Local Communities
Coillte Renewable Energy pride ourselves on developing and delivering projects responsibly that provide positive national, regional and local benefits. We do this through managing design and development in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders for results supported by both.
Our engagement objectives range from building relationships and trust, to creating an environment around our developments where we will be openly and warmly welcomed back in the future by stakeholders and communities alike.
What is a Community Benefit Fund? And how does it work?
As with all wind farm projects which Coillte develop, a community benefit fund will be put in place for the lifetime of the project to provide direct funding to those areas surrounding the project.
Two important areas of Government policy development are nearing completion which will have a bearing on the establishment of future community benefit funds, the updated Wind Energy Guidelines and the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS). Both sets of policy are expected to be finalised during Q2/Q3 2020 which will provide the Government requirements on future community benefit funds for renewable energy projects. We will fully take into account these two important policies as we present the Coillte approach to community benefit.
Coillte expects that for each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced by the wind farm, the project will contribute €2 into a community fund for the RESS period i.e. first 15 years of operation and €1 per MWh for the remaining lifetime of the wind farm. If this commitment is improved upon in upcoming Government Policy we will adjust accordingly.
If this project is constructed as currently designed we estimate that a total of approximately 10 million euro will be available in the local area for community funding over the lifetime of the project.
The above figure is indicative only and will be dependent on the generation capacity of the wind farm which is influenced by a number of factors including:
1. Number of wind turbines.
2. Capacity and availability of energy production of those turbines.
3. Quantity of wind (we can have both good and bad wind years).
How will the fund be used and administered?
The Community Benefit Fund belongs to the local community. The premise of the fund is that it should be used to bring about significant, positive change in the local area.
Working together with the near neighbours, the focus up to this point has been achieving a set of key principles for inclusion in the planning application, that is detailed enough to give some clear boundaries and commitments at this stage, but does not restrict the flexibility of being able to adapt to changing circumstances in terms of the project evolution, government policy and direction and a significant amount of work needed within the community.
What is meant by Community Investment?
The proposed Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) sets out that future renewable energy project proposals enable the possibility for local communities to invest in projects in a meaningful way as a means to directly gain from the financial dividends that a project can provide should it be consented, built and operated. In response to this, Coillte have been working hard with external agencies to develop workable models of Community Investment.
As with the benefit fund, we aim to take this work into the community during 2020, to continue to explore this exciting possibility and see how best to embed its design within the community.