4. Designing A Community Benefit Package For Offshore Renewable Energy Projects
Can be any location geographically linked to a renewable energy development, and those who live in this area. In this context, there is no set formula to identify a host community, but self-identification and collaborative discussion may help.
Community of interest
A community of people who are bound together because of a shared interest or passion. Members of such a community may engage with one another to share information or ideas around the shared topic.
Flexibility is outlined as a key component of community benefits. This is understood to mean that:
- There is not one single approach and design which Scottish Government require to be delivered on every project
- Developers should not have a blanket policy which is rolled out on all projects
The term 'package' is used to describe community benefit provision, as there is not a single delivery mechanism which can be employed on every scheme. A successful 'package' will be designed on a case-by-case basis and may be composed of several components.
It is important for stakeholders to understand the details of a project, and if possible, to have a basic understanding of the offshore renewable energy industry before engaging in discussions on a community benefit package. Each package will vary depending on the developer, the 'community' and the project itself, and it will be necessary to design a package which works well taking each of these into account.
It is of some relevance to consider how community projects are funded through other initiatives, for example the Scottish Landfill Community Fund (SLCF). Although an entirely different setup in that the SLCF is a tax relief scheme, there are similarities in that projects look to create significant environmental and socio-economic benefits which improve the lives of communities living near sites. The Scottish Landfill Tax and Scottish Landfill Communities Fund were introduced in April 2015, further information is available in Case Study 2.
4.3 Good Practice Principles
A package should be proposed by the developer, and further developed in discussion with the community, and designed to consider:
1. Appropriate identification: ensuring benefits are delivered to suitable beneficiaries – explored in Chapter 5.
2. Appropriate implementation: ensuring benefits are delivered through a suitable mechanism and focused on appropriate topics – explored in Chapter 6.
Note that the perception of appropriate benefit provision will vary according to individual perspectives. This potential disparity in views should be acknowledged at an early stage and efforts undertaken to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
4.3.1 Site specific solutions
This document recognises that offshore renewable energy sites vary greatly, and therefore these principles are designed to be flexible to ensure the optimal outcome is reached on a site-specific basis. Stakeholders should be aware that community benefit packages will vary from project to project, depending on a range of factors including:
- Scale of project
- Distance of project from shore (Note that some offshore sites will be visible from shore, while others will not.)
- Nature of project, i.e. research or trial site
A fundamental principle of community benefit is therefore that each package should be tailored to reflect the characteristics of the development.
4.4 Further Guidance
It is recognised that the offshore renewable energy industry faces many challenges and that progress is dependent upon many factors over a number of years. The expected process and timescale of the provision of any community benefits should be well communicated to stakeholders from an early stage. Community benefits are expected to be provided following first export of electricity and generation of income. Offshore projects may have a phased construction process and provision of any voluntary community benefits in advance of commissioning may be considered on a site-by-site basis. Suggestions of such a provision include an additional apprenticeship scheme, or direct funding of a one-off community project. Community benefits provided in advance of commissioning may be phased as appropriate.
4.4.2 Research and development sites
Community benefits are intended as a tool to help share the benefits of Scotland's renewable energy resource across the country. These principles are therefore applicable to commercial sites where there is an economic benefit to the developer. Community benefit packages from research sites are not a requirement of good practice, however developers may wish to consider or discuss possible provision of benefits from research sites on a case-by-case basis.
4.4.3 Guidance on acceptable engagement
Offshore renewable energy projects are likely to be major developments which will require an in-depth engagement strategy. Such a process is beyond the scope of this document. Further information on good practice for engagement with offshore wind farms is available in the following report:
Email: Lorne Frew