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Renewable Energy Generation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 June 2021

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Questions (158)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

158. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications his views on whether it is appropriate for wind farm developments to hand the distribution of community funds to local organisations; if or the way in which a local community would benefit from this; the level of oversight that he views would be appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33271/21]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) supports communities in a variety of ways including via a mandatory community benefit fund for every project supported in the scheme, typically over a 15 year lifetime.

These funds will be aligned to incentivise investment in local renewable energy, energy efficiency measures and climate action initiatives as well as supporting a wide variety of other local activities such as those practised by clubs and societies. The community benefit fund mandate under the first RESS auction which was held last year will deliver almost €4 million a year to sustainable community initiatives targeted at those communities living near the RESS-1 Projects.

My Department has already committed to the publication of a National Register of Funds and a Good Practice Principles Handbook. A draft version of this document was opened for public consultation in March and also consulted on through a number of townhall webinars and stakeholder workshops. My Department is now assessing the feedback received and drafting the final version for publication by July 2021. This will lay out a range of principles, including guidance on how the new funds will be managed and administered and the need to ensure community participation in fund decision-making via the establishment of a local fund committee.

A number of commercial entities are already active in community benefit fund operation and administration, but, in keeping with my firm commitment to the principles of local decision-making and local administration, the Handbook will also point to a range of local administration opportunities. Local input in the RESS community benefit funds will be key to maximising the impact of these funds in the years ahead.

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