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Community / People should benefit from the electricity produced on their doorstep – says Tory leader

The construction of the 103 Viking Energy turbines is now well under way. Photo: David Albutt

SCOTTISH Conservatives leader Douglas Ross says there is a case for communities directly affected by large onshore wind farm projects to benefit more from the developments.

The Highlands and Islands MSP and opposition leader in the Scottish Parliament is in Shetland until Wednesday.

He said it was “upsetting” to see communities divided over the rollout of large renewable energy projects.

Douglas Ross MSP.

Ross said he was open to having discussions and making representations to government ministers on both higher community benefit as well as the call for reduced electricity charges for islanders, the so-called ‘Shetland tariff’.

Viking Energy developer SSE Renewables has committed to paying the annual standard rate of £5,000 per installed megawatt capacity into a community fund which will be worth just over £2.2 million annually.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Liberal Democrats recently called for community benefit payments to be five per cent of the wholesale price for electricity, thus potentially generating significantly higher returns for communities.

Ross said: “The Scottish Conservatives had a manifesto for a moratorium to prevent any more large-scale onshore wind farms because many parts of the country are at capacity.

“And I think we have to look at the technologies that we have: many of these wind farms are not producing as was promised, and in terms of community benefit, again, that is an issue that needs to be looked at.

“The cost of living crisis is affecting the whole of the country but it is more keenly felt here.

“When people can see they are generating electricity for the rest of Scotland and the UK, and are not benefitting from that, then certainly we need to have a discussion and see what can be done to offer more to the communities.

“If there are further representations that need to be made to Scottish Government ministers or UK Government ministers then I am keen to take that back.”

Turbine transport near the Mid Kames ridge on Monday. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

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