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Government backs community renewables

THE SCOTTISH government has announced it will help communities and rural enterprises to develop green energy schemes with a new loan fund.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead told the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference , in Edinburgh, that communities across Scotland could reap huge benefits from energy production.

Unveiling plans for the new fund, Mr Lochhead said it would be available to help prepare renewable energy projects before they applied for planning permission.

Mr Lochhead said: “There is potential for nearly 900 megawatts of electricity being produced from wind turbines at some 340 sites, about 23 MW of hydropower and about 800 MW of biomass heating capacity across 460 installations.

“On the heat side alone, this equates to a 300 per cent increase on the 155 small and medium scale systems currently operating in Scotland.

“The scope to enhance revenue to communities and landowners is equally significant with one 2.5 MW turbine providing a net return of £4.8 million over a 20 year period.

“This government is determined that communities should share in the opportunities opening up before us and we will be consulting shortly on a range of options to ensure these benefits are secured for the people of Scotland.”

The initial business case for the pre-planning loan fund is outlined in a report prepared by the Scottish Agricultural College and Community Energy Scotland.

The government hopes the new fund will lead to new development partnerships and aid investment in a wide range of low carbon energy projects throughout the country.

The report should become available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/Energy/Energy-sources/19185/Resources/20646

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