Greens: Local communities must be at the heart of renewables development

For immediate use Monday 28 March 2011

Ensuring a level playing field for local communities to tap into and benefit from Scotland's abundant renewable energy sources must be a central element in the country's energy policy, the Scottish Green Party insisted today.

Concerns have been raised in recent days that major foreign-owned energy companies have been granted privileged access to develop on some of the best wind turbine sites in Scotland at the expense of local communities. These sites are situated in publicly-owned land controlled by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Mark Ruskell, the Greens' top candidate for the Mid Scotland and Fife Region, said:

"The argument for basing Scotland's onshore renewables revolution around local communities has already been won. Look at the success of the Fintry Development Trust or the exciting plans for Newburgh. Yet foreign-owned power giants such as E.ON are now set to hoover up hundreds of millions of pounds by exploiting sites on public land. What's more, these huge potential revenues will come via renewables obligation certificate payments, funded by Scotland's electricity consumers.

"The SNP do like to talk about renewables, but, like their Labour predecessors, this talk is undermined by their long-term and continuing attachment to oil and coal. The opportunities for direct community involvement in developing renewables in this country are substantial, and this approach helps ensure projects are popular and that profits are kept locally. It's deeply regrettable that the SNP have continued Labour's approach to renewables development, slanted in favour of multinationals, not the communities up and down the country that are willing to roll up their sleeves and reap the benefits.

"The Forestry Commission's estate is vast in Scotland and in this election campaign we will be pushing for publicly owned renewable developments sited on public land."