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‘Communities should get cash for wind farms’, says energy minister

Communities should gain financial benefits from having wind farms in their areas to reduce objections to the turbines, according to a Government minister.

The Government wants to see more community ownership of wind farms so that local people see direct financial benefits from renewables, and has committed to ensuring that business rates should be kept locally from green power developments.

With the localism agenda giving councils more control over development in their areas, Energy Minister Charles Hendry said there was a need to spell out the benefits for people of having renewable power in the local area.

At a Westminster Hall debate, he will warn against the “hectoring” approach of the previous government towards those who object to measures to tackle climate change.

“Such castigations have only led to more entrenched opposition and a lack of popular consent for local wind farm developments.”

He will say: “At present, too often a community can see what it will lose by having a wind farm in its midst, but it cannot see what it gains.

“The Government believes wind power has an important contribution to make, both to our energy security and to our low-carbon goals, but it should not be imposed on unwilling communities outside of a full and proper democratic process.”

Under the new localism agenda, the top-down targets and requirements are going, he will say, which means communities will need a much clearer understanding of the benefits they will receive from having a wind farm in their area.

As well as financial incentives, companies need to explain the benefits, such as new jobs, and deal with local concerns and needs as proposals are shaped up.

And he will say that wind turbines should be positioned in places where the wind is strongest.

This year the Government is bringing forward a full review of the funding system which pays subsidies for renewable generation to make sure the payments do not make it attractive to put wind farms in unsuitable locations, where they do not generate much electricity.