Argyll & Bute Council have published details of the Community Benefit payments made by Argyll's Wind Farms in 2016. For the fourth consecutive year Allt Dearg wind farm has set the highest standard for community benefit paid out in Argyll, both in terms of absolute amount and Pounds per MW installed. Whilst Allt Dearg and Sròndoire together represent just over 5% of the county's installed generation capacity, the community and locally owned wind farms contributed over 32% of the total direct community benefit paid out in Argyll.
Two additional commercial scale wind farms started operating this year, increasing the total number of wind farms in Argyll to fifteen, and increasing the installed generation capacity to 285 MW. The Council collects annual data on the amount of community benefit payment made by each of these wind farms, this year the total amount received by local communities was £536,520, up from £441,271 last year. Allt Dearg with an installed generation capacity of 10MW delivered £81,573 (down from £115,054 last year) to the Ardrishaig Community Trust and £32,000 to the Allt Dearg Educational Trust, making it the largest single contributor of Community Benefit in Argyll. The reduced level of community payment reflected the fall in wholesale energy prices and calmer winds through 2016.
The new Sròndoire Community Wind Farm made payments to the Community owners, Tighnabruaich Community Renewables Ltd and Tarbert & Skipness Renewables Ltd, of £43,600 and a further payment of £18,000 to the Educational Trust.
Full details of wind farm contributions can be found here.
James Lithgow of Ormsary said: "Lower generation levels and power prices have reduced income levels for our Community partners, but despite these setbacks our ownership model continues to ensure the maximum level of social and economic benefit from these projects is retained in our local communities. We were very disappointed that the Scottish Government failed to recognise the social and economic benefits these projects are delivering in Argyll, when they removed the non-domestic rates rebate scheme for renewable energy in April and then excluded our projects from the community owned renewable energy relief scheme. With the Scottish Government apparently keen to promote renewable energy and community ownership, it is a peculiar contradiction that our wind farm rates’ costs are now significantly higher than they would be elsewhere in the United Kingdom. However working with Scottish Government officials we have managed to shelter the community partners from the full financial impact of this perverse policy, and hope that the Scottish Government will recognise the wider community benefits of these projects when next reviewing non-domestic rates relief. We continue to believe that local land owners and communities should find ways to work together to ensure that the UK's next generation of wind farms bring the highest levels of economic benefit to the surrounding area. These Council figures only record the "direct" community benefit; in addition, Ormsary and Stronachullin, the local land owning partners at Allt Dearg and Sròndoire, deliver indirect spend on local wages and services in the community worth several times the direct benefits".