A major new fund to help the development of renewable energy schemes in rural Scotland was unveiled today (February 15) by Richard Lochhead.
The Rural Affairs Secretary announced that 2.4 million pounds is being made available in 2011-12 to farmers and other land managers to help them harness Scotland’s renewable energy potential.
The funds are being ploughed into the Scottish Government’s existing Communities and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) Loan Fund, which from April will be opened up to farmers and other land managers for the first time.
The expanded fund will build on the CARES grants scheme that, last year alone, supported 300 community-based projects, which are expected to generate well over 20 million pounds over the next 20 years.
Announcing the development at the NFUS Annual General Meeting in St Andrews, Richard Lochhead said:
“Scotland has fantastic potential for the development of renewable energy, which as well as delivering environmental benefits, should also be able to bring significant economic opportunities.
“The Scottish Government is determined to do all it can to help unleash this potential while making sure we support an increase the in scale of local ownership of energy generation across Scotland.
“Renewable energy generation at a local level has the potential to be a real money spinner. However, I am told repeatedly by farmers that, while aware of the benefits to be obtained from renewables, they are put off pursuing schemes because of the expense of reaching the pre-planning stage.
“I’m therefore delighted to announce major new funding for renewables in rural Scotland. From April, we are committing an extra 2.4 million pounds to our Communities and Renewables Energy Scheme to open up the loan fund to farmers and land managers.
“This scheme is designed to cover the risk of the pre-planning stage by offering loans of up to 90 per-cent of the costs, providing there’s a minimum community benefit from the project. This is in addition to the Feed-In-Tariffs and the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive.
“Broadening access to this fund to all land managers will help them work with communities to unleash the potential benefits renewables bring to rural communities.
“I urge all land managers to seize this opportunity to benefit from nature, assist their communities and help Scotland maximise its potential from the renewable energy revolution.”
The 7.75 million pounds CARES scheme includes support and advice at a local level. It is open to community groups, land managers, local businesses and co-operatives working in partnership with community groups. To access the fund, land managers should form partnerships with local communities to share revenue.
The additional 2.4 million pounds has been made available through savings within the Rural Development and Environment portfolio.
CARES is designed to de-risk the pre-planning stage of renewable energy projects by offering loans of up to 150,000 pounds to cover up to 90 per cent of the early costs which are repayable at a commercial rate should the scheme receive planning permission but written off if the application fails. Early costs could include environmental assessments, river flow analysis and deposits to connect to the national grid.
Land managers wishing to express an interest in the fund should complete the attached form: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/341558