Cornwall Council is working to ensure that local communities, residents and businesses benefit from the move to a local carbon economy:
Over the past four years Cornwall Council has introduced a range of proactive measures to help reduce fuel bills and ensure that the benefits from renewable energy remain in Cornwall.
These include encouraging energy developers to voluntarily provide an annual cash grant to local communities which host their schemes. While such contributions, which are based on the size of the project, are not part of the planning decision-making process, they offer a long term income stream for communities which can then use the money to tackle local issues, such as improving the efficiency of their community buildings, or supporting local facilities, such as parks and play spaces. So far this approach has raised more than £10m for communities across Cornwall.
The Council is also supporting the development of community-owned energy projects where surplus income from the energy owned collectively by local residents is kept within the locality and then reinvested where the community needs it most.
Cornwall’s community energy sector is one of the strongest in the country, and though voluntary contributions to run community energy can cause issues with initiating projects, Cornwall Council set up a £2.5 million revolving loan fund to help fund projects across Cornwall:
So far the fund has invested £1.117m which has supported:
- 1.075MW of community owned generation:
- Saved 1831 tonnes CO2e;
- Provided opportunities for further community investment in the form of community shares (typically at least 15% of the value of the loan).
The council also shared information on upcoming projects:
Work is already underway to develop two pilot projects which are designed to create new replicable community energy models. The first of these is a community heat project, focusing on an off-gas location, while the second will focus on developing new ways for communities to supply themselves with electricity that is generated locally. If successful this pilot will allow communities to keep more of the value of their projects within their community, while helping to lower fuel bills.
Cornwall Council has appointed renewable energy consultants RegenSW to help develop this project, with the aim of sharing the learning from both of these pilots with the Government and the wider community energy sector.
The Council is also using the Devolution Deal to explore ways to support communities through the local planning process. With the adoption of Cornwall’s Local Plan in December, Cornwall now benefits from specific planning policies which support community energy projects. In addition to this the Council has also produced planning advice for Neighbourhood Planning groups that are looking to support community energy projects and capture the benefits of their local energy system.
Read the full story, posted 2 March 2017