At each wind farm site we design, construct and operate, our goal is to ensure that we create significant environmental, economic and community benefits at the local and global scale.
The construction and operation of our wind farms have a positive effect on the economy. It is our policy to use local firms where skills and services match requirements during the construction phase and all staff and contractors who pass through or relocate for this period make use of local amenities, creating additional benefit to the hosting community.
Analysis carried out by independent consultant Innovas, on behalf of the Renewable Energy Association, has revealed the scale of the economic benefits associated with renewable energy developments like Llanbrynmair Wind Farm. Their report Renewable Energy: Made in Britain states that, during 2010/2011, renewable energy companies in Wales employed 4,700 people and generated a turnover of £0.57 billion.
We are keen that our wind farms become a good neighbour and a positive feature of the local environment, and at each of our sites we investigate further initiatives which could provide direct benefits to local people throughout the wind farm's life.
In accordance with current guidance, RES will be consulting widely on potential community benefits and will be looking at the best way to structure a Community Benefit Fund. Such a fund would be based on an annual payment paid by the owner of the wind farm to the local community for the lifetime of the wind farm. The community fund can then be used to provide assistance and support to local projects, events and good causes.
The decision about where the fund is spent will rest with a panel of local people. The value of the funds is related to the installed capacity of the wind farm and at Llanbrynmair Wind Farm we anticipate that the community fund available will be £3000 per installed MW per annum.
RES has also recently introduced a community benefit in the form of a local electricity discount scheme (LEDS) for properties close to its new wind farms. More than 750 properties could claim an annual discount of £152 once the wind farm is operational. RES has written directly to the properties around the site that would be eligible to receive the electricity discount, offering people the opportunity to register their interest in the scheme.
The total package of community benefits at Llanbrynmair Wind Farm, including LEDS and the Community Benefit Fund, amounts to more than £7.5 million over the lifetime of the wind farm. It is important to note that the offer of a Community Benefit Fund and LEDS will not affect the decision to grant planning permission for the project as neither is a planning matter.
At the local level, by hosting a wind farm, the local communities around the proposed Llanbrynmair Wind Farm will be making their own essential contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
RES also works hard during the design phase of all its wind farms to achieve direct, local environmental benefits.
In order to protect and enhance the local environment at Llanbrynmair Wind Farm, RES is developing proposals for various mitigation measures and improvements to the site that will create an overall net gain in conservation value.
We have worked closely with ornithologists and ecologists to produce a Habitat Management Plan which will be implemented with the cooperation of those who use the land. Proposed measures may include forestry felling to revert to heath habitat, restoration of habitats and watercourse and blanket bog restoration.
Where possible, existing tracks have been used for access routes and new grassland strips and vegetation habitats will be encouraged along all tracks, providing habitat for animals and insects. In addition the timing of any work carried out will be planned so as to keep disruption to a minimum. Overall the improvements will provide many beneficial consequences for wildlife on the Llanbrynmair Wind Farm site.
RES works hard to involve local communities in all our planned wind projects. Our community consultation includes providing literature and newsletters, holding public exhibitions and talks to local organisations and schools.
Our operating wind projects attract interest from locals and visitors alike and are a useful educational resource, assisting in raising awareness of climate change and clean energy solutions among the local and wider community. As such, RES holds open days where possible at its wind farms and engages with schools and young people, organisations and professional groups to help raise awareness of sustainability issues and the role of wind energy in tackling climate change.
It may be that you have ideas to suggest, in which case, please don't hesitate to contact us.