A vital part of renewables projects on the National Forest Estate is ensuring that local communities are able to benefit from these developments in a number of different ways.

There are three ways that community groups can get more involved in projects:

Community benefit payments

Community groups may be eligible to receive benefit payments from developer-led renewable energy projects on the National Forest Estate. In 2010 we introduced a standard annual community benefit of £5,000 per MW installed. This has now become industry standard and is part of the Scottish Government Good Practice Principles.

The community must first be defined to be an appropriate community organisation as outlined in our guidance: Definition of an appropriate community organisation (PDF 90KB)

We have also produced guidance for developers on their role in the process for agreeing project specific community benefit arrangements: Developer guidance - Community Benefit Arrangements (PDF 119KB)

Community investment

There can be opportunities for community groups to invest in a local development and receive payments from this stake. The details of investment opportunities are determined by the individual developers and communities.

Community investment on the National Forest Estate (PDF 238KB) outlines the principles which we will apply to the financing of community investment opportunities in certain specific renewable energy developments on the estate.

Community self-development

There have been opportunities for communities to work with us to develop their own renewable energy schemes on the estate through the National Forest Land Scheme. We are currently working with a number of groups that have expressed an interest in these opportunities. This has been replaced for new applications by the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS) launched in January 2017.

Costs associated with community self development

To help community groups to progress their proposals for self-development we have produced guidance on rental payments and other associated costs (for example legal fees):

Draft heads of terms

These generic draft heads of terms documents provide the basis for the leasing of land for community organisations to take forward a wind or hydro renewable energy scheme:

Learning lessons from community projects

Our work with communities on energy projects is still very new, and we're keen to find out how we're doing and how we can improve.

In 2014, we commissioned research into community perceptions of how we had dealt with three projects; development of community-owned hydro schemes at Stank Burn, near Callander, and Allt Achadh na Moine (Garmony) on Mull; and opportunity for community investment in a commercial hydro development at Abhainn Shalachain, Morvern.

Further advice

Advice about community benefits and opportunities is available through the Scottish Government CARES contract from Local Energy Scotland or Freephone 0808 808 2288.

Development Trusts Association Scotland, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Community Woodlands Association and Community Energy Scotland may also be able to assist.