Changes to the way windfarm cash is distributed are set to be brought in next week.
And a much wider distribution of a potential £10 million yearly income appears to be on the cards.
The benefits of a region-wide socio economic fund will be spelled out to the planning, housing and environment services committee.
And one of four options on the table would see all the cash ploughed into the single fund although it comes with a “difficult to implement” warning as the move would fly in the face of the basic principle that communities with windfarms in their midst should be the principal beneficiaries.
So the final decision may rest with retaining the current community windfarms benefit policy whereby money is distributed locally but with some alterations.
The options looks at splitting the money between local communities and the region wide fund.
That could be 50/50, 60/40 or some other variation.
It is seen as more equitable to everyone and was reportedly favoured in public consultation.
However, members are warned some communities will resist the move.
Environment services boss Alistair Speedie suggests in a report that identifying host communities could remain unchanged – an option largely favoured – as community council areas within 15 kilometres of a windfarm perimeters.
However, reducing that to 10 kilometres would mean fewer communities with larger funding pots.
A socio economic fund would be used to support projects in a low carbon economy, contributing to the regeneration of communities in the region.
In other words it would support moves to attract visitors, improve broadband, tackle fuel poverty, help affordable housing development and help improve sustainable transport as well as develop skills and job opportunities.
Community groups, communities themselves and organisations in the public sector would be able to apply for various grants, capped at a possible maximum of £10,000, and controlled by a Community Benefit Action Group – CBAG.
Members will be told there are 65 windfarm applications at various stages from up and running to awaiting scoping option in the system. If all go ahead, they will translate to 929 turbines.
And that could bring in £10.225 million for community benefits.
One of the other options on the table would give all the money to host communities with the council providing support in negotiating benefit agreements and managing the funds. The other would see the authority wash its hands of the whole affair and leave communities to negotiate their own benefits.
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