Community energy projects are only “community energy” by name if they do not consult with the wider community. The DCEco set up an on-line public opinion survey regarding wind turbines but received a minimal response. The more proactive technique of employing local facilitators to actively engage the public has been invaluable. This has generated data from a cross section of our locality that would not have been available if we had waited for the public to come to us. It has provided us with a strong mandate to proceed with our community wind turbine project and guidance from our community as to the direction we should take to maintain local engagement in our project.
We have realised that finding sites for community owned renewables in this area is extremely difficult. Commercial developers already hold options over the best sites and planning guidelines elsewhere are very restrictive. Scottish Government targets for community renewables will only be met if a way is found to make it easier for communities to invest in joint ventures with the developers of commercial windfarms.