The development comes after Chris Huhne's protocol launch in February developed by the trade body RenewableUK, which specifies payment of £1,000pa per 1MW installed wind power during the lifetime of the project. Industry hoped that formalised payment would reduce opposition to wind farms from anti-wind farm groups.
At that time, the Renewable Energy Foundation, believed by some to lobby against wind farm developments, said £1,000 proposal was insufficient payment, accounting for just 0.5% of the total annual income of an average wind farm, and suggested that the community reparation should include direct compensation to affected neighbours, and reduced council tax to reflect lost amenity."
However, the Highland council is delighted that the region stands to gain significantly from the new fund from SSE as the principle is being accepted that local communities should benefit from renewable projects on their doorsteps, and community benefit should double from £2,500 per annum for 1MW of generation capacity to £5,000.
The fund will be available for organisations promoting skills development, community energy schemes and improving the built and natural environment.
Council leader Michael Foxley said: "This is very welcome news indeed. We have consistently argued for a minimum of £5,000pa for each 1MW of generation capacity and the setting up of this new fund finally recognises this threshold.
"We are also pleased that SSE are willing to sit down with key stakeholders, such as the council, to discuss the fine detail of how the fund is distributed with the aim of maximising the benefit for local communities, enhancing the skills of local workers, through training, creating jobs and seeing real improvements to the fabric of our local communities."