Windfarms to bring communities average £20,000 a year

Wind turbines Swindon Onshore windfarms are going up across the UK but many locals fight against their installation

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Local communities in England that agree to site an onshore windfarm will receive payment backed by the government, under new plans.

Renewable UK, the renewable energy trade association, has launched a "wind energy industry guarantee" that will average £20,000 per year per project.

With the average life of a windfarm estimated at 20 years, this could add up to £400,000.

There are also plans to offer other benefits.

There will be a commitment to pay £1,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity each year for the lifetime of a wind farm whose average output is expected to be 20MW.

This is a joint initiative by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Renewable UK.

"The package of measures will see wind farm developments of 5MW and above that are submitted to planning authorities come with a commitment to community funds and/or benefits in kind," a joint statement said.

It added that although goodwill payments already applied when a windfarm was built, there were no common national standards.

Charles Anglin at Renewable UK told the BBC: "In contributing to the fight against global warming, creating jobs in the economy and securing energy supplies, local communities should get a tangible local benefit."

He conceded there was organised opposition to wind farms, but said that, "over the last decade, independent polls have showed 80% of people are in favour of wind power."

'Less divisive'

However, the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said the payment was not enough, as it reflected just 0.5% of the total annual income of the average wind farm.

It said the average turbine generated an income of about £500,000 a year, half of which is subsidised by consumer energy bills.

Under the new scheme, the community benefit would be £2,300 per turbine.

"The wind farm industry is taking our money with one hand and expecting us to be grateful for the small change offered with the other," said Dr John Constable, director of policy and research at the foundation.

"Many will perceive community benefit of this kind and scale as adding insult to injury, and the plan seems unlikely to be persuasive."

The Industrial Wind Action Group said the payment must not compromise the need for the properly considered siting of wind farms.

"Turbines must be placed where they will do no harm and the community must be granted authority to turn them off if problems arise. Otherwise the money is nothing more than a bribe and should be declined."

Windfarms have been controversial in some areas, with some campaigners saying they are noisy and spoil the landscape.

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