The development of renewable energy is a natural step in the evolution of locally generated electricity. Harvesting peat for electricity has brought significant economic gain for many areas of the Midlands over the years. Ireland is now on a path of decarbonisation and the energy that we are using is switching from fossil fuels to renewables. The potential to extract local economic and societal gains remains with the development of renewable energy projects. All renewable projects that are developed over the coming years will attract a significant community benefit fund for the local area which will often equate to multimillion-euro investment opportunities for local communities.
Local people know the local needs best
In all communities, it is the local people who know the area best. It is you, the people who live here that know the strengths, weaknesses, desires and aspirations of the area. In some areas, there is a preference for support for projects which work with the youth however, in others it may be services for the elderly that require support. Local rural issues such as security or commuting may be relevant in some areas but not in others.
The fundamental principle in the development of our community benefits package is that we seek to work with local people to deliver increased environmental, economic and social sustainability to local communities. We endeavour to ensure that our developments deliver for local people. As such, we are interested in hearing what ideas you have on how this wind farm could deliver the most benefit to you and your local area.
Through working with the local community, we aim to ensure that the community benefit fund delivers the maximum possible benefit and that it delivers for you. This fund will support the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the local area.
Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS)
In July 2018, the government announced details of the new renewable energy support scheme (RESS) which is aimed at encouraging the development of a sustainable renewable energy mix in Ireland. Should this proposal achieve planning consent and secure RESS support, there would be a very significant community opportunity.
- Community Benefit Fund. A very significant increase in community funds. For this proposal, it would mean that there would be in the region of €470,000 per year available for the local community.
What can the fund be used for?
We are keenly aware that money on its own means nothing. What money does bring is potential, and in order to maximise this potential what is needed is critical assessment and vision.
As part of our consultation process, we would like to challenge everyone to consider the needs of the local area and local people. Some of the questions that may warrant thought are:
A dedicated Community Benefit Fund is a great way to invest in sustainable, local initiatives that benefit the entire community. The funds are directly linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (see more on our Sustainability Page) which focus on things like sustainable communities, climate action, decent work and economic growth, and quality education.
With this project and other local projects being developed within the hinterland of Timahoe and The Swan, there is the potential for over €1 million to be delivered every year directly to local communities, based on the State’s current Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) guidelines.
The Coolglass Wind Farm, as proposed, could bring with it funding in the region of an estimated €470,000 each year, or over €7 million over a 15-year period.
Below are some examples of what has been considered in other areas in which we have worked and they might give a good indication of what can be achieved and advanced locally.
- Direct benefit schemes, such as near neighbour payments
- Energy efficiency schemes for households
- Funding for local heritage initiatives
- Job creations and investment into local economy
- Funding for recreation projects such as sports clubs and local amenities
- Support for local education schemes