Power to the people - McGuigan

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MAGHERAFELT Sinn Féin councillor, Brian McGuigan has again put strong focus on the need for ‘community benefit’ from wind farms.

Councillor McGuigan made his comments as Lauri McCusker of Fermanagh Trust presented findings from recently commissioned research which investigated ‘Maximising Community Outcomes from Wind Energy’ at last week’s meeting of Magherafelt District Council. Fermanagh Trust was invited to address the council on Councillor McGuigan’s suggestion.

In a statement this week, he said: “According to the most up to date research, in Britain, the level of financial contribution made by developers into community funds has steadily grown. Growing numbers of developers are offering amounts in the region of £5,000/MW per annum compared to contributions in the north of Ireland in the region of £2,000/MW per annum.

“Recently, the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm in Wales was granted planning permisson with Vattenfall committing to provide a community benefits package which could be worth more than £55 million over the lifetime of the wind farm. This would incorporate £3million for habitat management and £6,000/MW per annum to a community trust fund, while generating vast amounts of home-grown renewable electricity and significant benefits to the local community.

“There is no reason why communities in Ireland should not benefit to the same degree as those in Britain. Local communites need to be convinced of not just the environmental benefits of renewable energy but also local economic and social benefits if we are to garner their support and co-operation. Our local communities are entitled to derive some beneficial return from their local natural environmental resources.”