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by Nicholas Mairs
12 August 2015
Call for clarity over future of community owned renewables

Call for clarity over future of community owned renewables

The Scottish and Welsh Governments have warned UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Ruud that Whitehall cuts could disrupt community-run renewable energy projects.

In a joint letter Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing and Welsh Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant urged Amber Rudd to clarify what effect the early closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) will have on the development of projects throughout the UK.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will end support under the RO for onshore wind from 1 April 2016 – a year earlier than planned – although there are plans for a ‘grace period’ for projects that were granted planning permission before 22 July this year.

In a call for ‘meaningful dialogue’ they said that the lack of notice and discussion with devolved administrations has been ‘far more disruptive than was necessary’.

The letter outlined the extent to which the cuts could damage both community-owned projects and local supply chains.

While addressing the lack of resources and finance available to community projects, the letter warns “that small scale industry will go into a hiatus until either the retail price of electricity, or advances in storage and local supply, make projects commercially viable without subsidy”.

Fergus Ewing said: “There are many communities who have invested significant amounts of money in renewables schemes and have now found the goal posts have been moved, putting crucial investment and jobs at risk.

"On the Isle of Lewis we have the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK at 9MW. This will generate around £1 million each year for the local community who will decide how to spend that money. However, potentially the future of other projects like this could be under threat as a result of the recent announcements by the UK Government, and it will be tragic if these opportunities are lost to future communities.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland backed the calls, with spokesperson Anne Schiffer responding: “The transition to renewables is an opportunity to tackle the inequalities of our currently, highly-centralised energy system. Community energy has been a strong success story in Scotland so far.

“We believe that both people and the environment need to be at the heart of a renewables transition and the best way to achieve this is through community energy - people’s ownership of renewable energy.”

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