Local communities in England which agree to site an onshore windfarm will receive payment backed by the government, under new plans.
Renewable UK, the renewable energy trade association, will launch a “wind energy industry guarantee” that will average £20,000 per year per project.
With the average life of a windfarm estimated at 20 years, this could add up to £400,000.
There are also plans to offer other benefits.
There will be a commitment to pay £1,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity each year for the lifetime of a wind farm whose average output is expected to be 20MW.
However, the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said the payment was not enough, as it reflected just 0.5% of the total annual income of the average wind farm.
It said the average turbine generated an income of about £500,000 a year, half of which is subsidised by consumer energy bills.
Under the new scheme, the community benefit would be £2,300 per turbine.
REF said “more generous and less divisive forms of community reparation would be preferable”.
“The wind farm industry is taking our money with one hand and expecting us to be grateful for the small change offered with the other,” said Dr John Constable, director of policy and research at the foundation.
“Many will perceive community benefit of this kind and scale as adding insult to injury, and the plan seems unlikely to be persuasive.”
Windfarms have been controversial in some areas, with some campaigners saying they are noisy and spoil the landscape.
The initiative will be launched later on Wednesday by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Renewable UK.
“The package of measures will see wind farm developments of 5MW and above that are submitted to planning authorities come with a commitment to community funds and/or benefits in kind,” a joint statement said.
It added that although goodwill payments already applied when a windfarm was built, there were no common national standards.
Charles Anglin at Renewable UK told the BBC: “In contributing to the fight against global warming, creating jobs in the economy and securing energy supplies, local communities should get a tangible local benefit.”
He conceded there was organised opposition to wind farms, but said that, “over the last decade, independent polls have showed 80% of people are in favour of wind power.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding