The development of renewable energy is a natural step in the evolution of locally generated electricity. Ireland is now on a path of decarbonisation and the energy that we are using is switching from fossil fuels to renewables. The development of renewable energy projects brings the potential to extract local economic and societal gains. All renewable projects that are developed over the coming years will attract a significant Community Benefit Fund for the local area which will often equate to multimillion-euro investment opportunities for local communities.
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 here that know the strengths, weaknesses, desires and aspirations of the area. In some areas, there is a preference for support for projects which work with the youth however, in others it may be services for the elderly that require support. Local rural issues such as security or commuting may be relevant in some areas but not in others.
Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS)
A key feature of all our projects is the funding made available to benefit the local community. These funds allow for a significant sum of money to be used for the community’s economic, environmental, social and cultural wellbeing. The fundamental principle of the benefit packages we roll out is that we seek to work with local people to deliver improved sustainability to their communities.
We recognise that every community is different and that it is the local people who know the area best. Decisions on what will be funded will rest with the members of a specially formed committee, allowing them to shape the strategy to maximise the benefits for the entire community.
The Community Benefit Fund is a great opportunity to play a central role in the transition to a zero-carbon, more sustainable future, and a particular focus of the funds is to support local initiatives that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). See below for more detail.
The Knockanarragh Wind Farm, as proposed, could bring with it funding in the region of an estimated €300,000 each year, or €4.5 million over a 15-year period.
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:
Below are some examples of what has been considered in other areas in which we have worked and they might give a good indication of what can be achieved and advanced locally.
- Direct benefit schemes, such as near neighbour payments
- Energy efficiency schemes for households
- Funding for local heritage initiatives
- Job creations and investment into local economy
- Funding for recreation projects such as sports clubs and local amenities
- Support for local education schemes