Where community ownership of renewable energy projects is not feasible, there remains potential for residents to profit from locally-sited projects through a ‘community benefits’ package from a commercial developer, usually as an annual cash payment to a community organisation. Despite support from policymakers and developers for community benefits packages, the relationship between the benefit package and acceptance of renewable energy projects is not straightforward. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with local residents and other community actors near a wind development in central Scotland, this paper examines the ‘process’ and ‘outcome’ dimensions of the design and provision of community benefits and considers how the relationship between these two dimensions affects local perceptions of the benefit of community benefits. Analysis of interviewees’ perceptions of the community engagement ‘process’ at the planning stage and the community benefit package ‘outcome’ reveals how a poorly defined engagement process, combined with a benefits package that is not deemed suitable for the needs of the community, can lead to negative associations with the project, even when initial perceptions were positive. These findings have implications for renewable energy policy in Scotland, particularly as there is currently no legal obligation for developers to consult communities on community benefit arrangements.
Bibliographical noteCopyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited
- community energy
- community benefit
- community engagement
- wind energy