Wind energy and justice for disadvantaged communities

Richard Cowell et al.
21st May 2012

What could be done to ensure that community benefit funds from developers are used to support lasting improvements in the areas around wind farms.

How should communities benefit from wind-farm developments?

Providing benefits to communities affected by wind-farm development is a matter of justice: a means of redressing the impacts on communities adversely affected by wind farms. More needs to be done to ensure that community benefit funds from developers are used to support lasting improvements in the areas around wind farms.

This Viewpoint argues that:

  • urgent action is needed to ensure that investment in renewable energy infrastructure benefits the communities affected;
  • community benefit funds are one mechanism for doing this, but should redress the harms caused to communities, not just foster acceptance of a scheme;
  • redirecting a proportion of community benefits away from very localised initiatives to tackle more fundamental issues can be unpopular, but it is more widely accepted where there are greater benefits for more people;
  • introducing local policies can increase the level of community benefits that wind energy developers provide;
  • one way of translating community benefit funds from large-scale renewable energy projects into local resilience would be to channel a proportion of these funds into locally-owned renewable energy projects.
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