Wind farm windfall for communities

Wind farmCommunities which have wind farms in their area could get money off their electricity bills or grants for facilities such as playgrounds, the Government has suggested.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has launched a consultation into how communities could benefit from having wind farms sited near them, for example by offsetting electricity bills or seeing investment in local infrastructure.

It will also look at how local businesses could become involved in the supply chain and how developers can best consult local people.

Energy Secretary Edward Davey said that too often host communities have seen the "wind farm but not the windfall" and wanted to ensure people benefited from them.

Currently the industry pays a minimum of £1,000 per megawatt of turbines installed to local communities, but in some cases companies provide larger benefits packages.

The Government is also reviewing the cost of onshore wind to ensure subsidies from April 2014 have been set at the right level. Subsidies are due to be cut by 10% from next year, although there were moves by the Treasury to have them reduced by 25%.

Significant opposition to onshore wind farms has been voiced by a number of Tory MPs, who wanted to see subsidies for the technology slashed, but the latest figures show that the majority of people are in favour of the turbines.

The latest data from Decc's quarterly survey into public attitudes revealed that 66% of people were in favour of onshore wind, although the figure was lower than for other renewable technologies.

Onshore wind had the highest level of opposition of the renewable energy sources, although only 12% opposed the technology, with just 4% strongly opposed to it.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned the Government against promoting a system in which communities were "paid off" to secure planning permission for wind farms.

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