Creating Projects that are Good for Local Communities

Community Engagement and Benefit

At Coillte Renewable Energy, we aim to build responsible projects that are good for us, for society and positively benefit our neighbours. We do this through managing the design and development in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders for results supported by both.

Our engagement objectives range from building relationships and trust, to creating an environment around our developments where we will be openly and warmly welcomed back in the future by stakeholders and communities alike.

What is a Community Benefit Fund? And how does it work?

Castlebanny Wind Farm has the potential to bring significant positive benefit to the local community. The project will create sustainable local employment, it will contribute annual rates to the local authority and it will provide opportunity for local community investment in the project in line with the new Renewable Energy Support Scheme. As with all wind farm projects which Coillte develop, a community benefit fund will be put in place for the lifetime of the project to provide direct funding to those areas surrounding the project.

Two important areas of Government policy development are nearing completion which will have a bearing on the establishment of future community benefit funds, the updated Wind Energy Development Guidelines and the Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS). Both sets of policy are expected to be finalised during Q2/Q3 2020 which will provide the Government requirements on future community benefit funds for renewable energy projects. We will fully take into account these two important policies as we present the Coillte approach to community benefit.

A significant annual community benefit fund will be established in line with forthcoming Government policy which will include both funding for wider community initiatives and a Near Neighbour scheme focused on houses in close proximity to the project.

 

What is a Community Benefit Fund?  And how does it work?

How the fund will be used and administered?

The Community Benefit Fund belongs to the local community. The premise of the fund is that it should be used to bring about significant, positive change in the local area. To make this happen, our first task should be to form a benefit fund development working group that clearly represents both the close neighbours to the project as well as nearby communities. This group would then work on designing the governance and structure of a community entity that would administer the Community Benefit Fund.  If you are interested in joining this working group, please contact us.

 

How the fund will be used and administered?

What is meant by Community Investment?

The proposed Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) sets out that future renewable energy project proposals enable the possibility for local communities to invest in projects in a meaningful way as a means to directly gain from the financial dividends that a project can provide should it be consented, built and operated. In response to this, Coillte have been working hard with external agencies to develop workable models of Community Investment. As with the benefit fund, we aim to take this work into the community, to continue to explore this exciting possibility and see how best to embed its design within the community.

 

Estimated Project Development Time

Oct 2016

Bird Studies begin

Jun 2019

Environmental Impact Assessment baseline studies begin.

Sep 2019

Noise Monitoring begins

Nov 2019

Community and Engagement process begins

Mar 2020

Site investigations commence

May 2020

Layout developed for Environmental Assessment and Community Engagement

Jan 2021

Planning Application submitted to An Bord Pleanala on 28th January 2021.