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Orkney's Community Wind Farm Project - Location-Specific Community Benefit Fund

Community councils across Orkney could all receive a community benefit payment from Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project if the project goes ahead.

Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project consists of three six-turbine council owned wind farm sites at Quanterness in St Ola, Wee Fea in Hoy and on Faray - all three sites have received planning approval from Scottish Ministers. 

The projects could generate around £6m per annum towards vital local services in Orkney, as well as a £432,000 a year in a location specific community benefit scheme paid directly to communities.

Options for the scheme were formed following a public consultation that ran throughout the summer of 2021, and were in line with the Scottish Government’s Good Practice Principles for Community Benefits from Onshore Renewable Energy Developments.

Community benefit schemes are a well-established, integral part of renewable energy developments. They are voluntary arrangements offered by renewable energy developers to communities located near developments and are not a material consideration in a planning application.

Throughout the consultation process we worked alongside local people to develop the location-specific community benefit scheme for Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project that, as far as possible, best met the needs and aspirations of our community.

We were particularly interested how local communities felt the fund should be managed, who it would be available to and what it should be used for. Following the consultation events, we were able to determine four key priorities:

  1.  All of Orkney should benefit from the location-specific community benefit fund.
  2. Additional recognition for the host communities of where the wind farms will be developed as well as recognition for the communities surrounding the projects.
  3. Community Councils to take a lead role in administering the funds.
  4. The funds to be manageable for the smaller Community Councils, noting that a key theme in the written responses was concerns regarding the capacity for volunteer run community councils to administer large grant applications, particularly in more fragile island communities. It should be noted that this consultation is not about expressing an opinion for or against the project or sites themselves – separate consultation processes exist for this.

A scheme was then chosen following a comprehensive selection process based off of the key priorities. It was decided that 100% of the fund would be managed by Community Councils, with 20% to each of the host communities of the wind farms - Eday, Hoy and Kirkwall & St Ola - and the remaining 40% split on a per population basis.

A recommendation by council officers was presented to elected members at the Policy and Resources committee on 21 June 2022. This was then ratified at Full Council on 5 July 2022 with a commitment to review it after two years of operation should the project be successful.

Where can I find out more information?

The consultation document is provided in the Related Downloads section of this webpage and provides some background information on Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project and on the guiding principles that have already been set for community benefit from the project.

The document sets out in detail the key questions that we looked for feedback on and also highlights two existing schemes that are in place in Orkney and in Shetland for reference.

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