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Nwicker60
20-Dec-11, 15:04
Community benefits policy approved

HIGHLAND councillors have taken an important step towards securing significant local funding for communities across Highland from renewable energy developments.
They have agreed the recommendations of their Community Benefit Working Group which will determine how future funds are allocated and set out how the Council will secure the highest level of benefit possible.
A key issue for communities is how the money is distributed at the local level. The Council agreed to use four Allocation Factors to provide an objective and scientific model for sharing funds among communities. The four Allocation Factors are proximity to site; visual impact; construction impact; and number of residences.
Members also gave the go ahead for a new concordat to be established which will set out the terms of a new relationship between the Council and developers. As part of this agreement it will be the Council’s responsibility to provide the framework and infrastructure for receiving and then disbursing Community Benefit and through which developers will agree to provide not less than 5,000 per installed megawatt annually that will appreciate each year in line with the UK Retail Price Index.
The policy will be formally launched at a special Community Benefit Conference that will take place in Inverness on Friday 24 February 2012.
Councillor Isobel McCallum, Chairman of The Highland Council’s newly-formed Rural Affairs and Climate Change Strategy Group, said: “We want to ensure that local communities benefit directly from the use of their local resources and are compensated for the disruption and inconvenience associated with renewable energy work. Any development that has an impact on the environment and local resources should have clear and direct benefits for those who live and work in the area.
“Our policy clearly sets out where responsibilities lie. Our commitment to set up concordats with developers will ensure that they operate within our policy and means we can negotiate directly with them on behalf of communities to secure the greatest level of benefit possible.
“As well as hosting the one day conference in February, we plan to run a series of workshops to explain the policy to local communities and give as much guidance as possible. I would encourage people to take the opportunity to come along and learn more about how they can maximise the benefits from any renewable energy developments in their local area.”
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