Harvesting the Benefits of Wind Energy
The transition from harvesting energy from peat, to harvesting the energy of the wind is one that can (and should) bring significant long-term benefits for the local area. We believe that each local area has its own needs and requirements in terms of the design and structure of community benefits. This proposal if granted planning permission could deliver a multimillion-euro community fund for the local area.
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 in this area that know the strengths and weakness of the area. In some communities, there may be a lack of support for the youth. In other communities, there may be a lack of facilities for the elderly. In some cases, it may be employment prospects or alternatively commuting for work may be an issue. Rural transport can often be an issue.
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.
The new 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 two very significant community opportunities.
- Community Benefit Fund. A very significant increase in community funds. For this proposal, it would mean that there would be in the region of €275,000/year available for the local community.
- Community Investment Opportunity. A community investment opportunity for those living within 10km of the project with priority given to people living within 5km.
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:
We would like you to tell us how you think that this fund should be used!
Considering these questions may lead you to identify opportunities for your local area. Should this proposal receive planning consent, we will work with you to develop these ideas and achieve your goals. Should it not, you will still be able to work towards making your area a better place to live in and improving your quality of life albeit without the significant financial assistance that this proposal could offer.
We would like to get your thoughts on how this proposal could deliver for you in your local area.
What initiatives have other areas considered?
Direct return – In many areas, it is felt that those living closest to the wind farm should receive a direct return from it. This is based on the principle that locally generated electricity should directly benefit those living in the local area. This is a concept that we support and one that we have worked with other communities on.
Greener Living Initiatives – Government have accepted that they will not be able to carry the cost of transitioning our society and way of living towards low carbon solutions. This means that whether through carbon taxes or the costs associated with upgrading our homes and cars, there will be implications for us all. That said, despite initial costs, making the change to low carbon solutions will lower your bills. This initiative is aimed at providing financial support for people to upgrade their homes, reduce their bills and reduce their carbon footprints.
Support for local community groups – The community benefit fund can be used to develop local groups that serve the needs of the local area. These can include local youth groups, services for the elderly, sporting organisations, schools etc.
Local educational fund – For some, the cost of access to further education, be that for themselves or their children, can be prohibitive. Part of the community benefit fund can be used towards assisting local people with these costs.
What innovative ideas might there be for your area?
A local enterprise development initiative
Taking into consideration the impact that the move away from peat harvesting may have in the North Offaly area, we believe that there may be an opportunity for this fund to be used to develop local enterprise initiatives. The IDA, Teagasc and Fáilte Ireland could be engaged with to consider how this might be achieved. Part of this may be to establish a fund to support local business start-ups.
A Greener farming initiative
Given that the fundamental behind the development of the wind farm is to tackle climate change, it would seem reasonable to support the local farming community by way of helping them to lower their carbon footprint.
If you are interested in any of the above, please let us know. These are only some initial ideas on how the community benefit fund could be leveraged to provide long term, lasting benefits for the local area but we would be very interested to hear from you as to what you might think would work in your local area.
Achieving great things is not the exclusive domain of others – Great things can be achieved when we all work together towards a common goal.
Local Business Support Scheme
As a part of our commitment to maximise the economic gain for the surrounding area, we have a developed a Local Business Database. The purpose of this is to ensure that all opportunities for local businesses to secure contracts are captured. All local suppliers, contractors and business on this database will be informed of opportunities and facilitated in applications ensuring that they are considered for all appropriate opportunities. These include:
- Road building: machine drivers, quarries, lorry drivers and ground workers
- Grounds maintenance, fencing materials & fencing contractors
- Engineering, steel fixing, surveying, formwork and shuttering
- Electrical supplies and electrical contracting
- Fuel supply, traffic and transport engineering supplies
- Plant and machinery repair and hire, tyres and servicing
- Supply of materials and goods
- Provision of lodging and travel
If you have a business that you think could benefit from this project please make sure to contact us.
Environmental and Economic Sustainability Scheme
[For those closest to the wind farm]
- The potential development of local employment initiatives
- Under RESS – A community investment opportunity
- A Greener Living Scheme
Rates for the Local Authority of approx. €330,000 per year. Many counties are considering raising the Local Property Tax. Rates paid by renewable energy projects would reduce the pressure on local authorities to do so.
Local road improvements – Roads which would be used during the construction of the project would be upgraded
We would like your feedback on how this project could bring the most benefit to the local area!