WIND farms contribute almost £9 million a year to community projects across Scotland, new figures have shown.
The amount of community benefit cash paid to local good causes from on-shore wind farms has now reached just over £8.8 million a year, according to Local Energy Scotland.
Grants paid out under the scheme have helped with a wide range of projects, including sending members of a West Lothian dance school to the European Street Dance Championships in Germany.
Payments also allowed a new community hall to be build in Daviot, Aberdeenshire, and to a thermal imaging camera so residents in the Sutherland area of the Highlands can see where extra insulation is needed.
Local Energy Scotland was set up to help communities and businesses benefit from renewable energy schemes in their area, with its community renewables register detailing how much cash is invested in good causes.
Wind farms of all sizes, ranging from ones providing 500 kilowatts of electricity, to ScottishPower Renewables’ Whitelee wind farm, which has a capacity of 539 megawatts, contribute to the scheme.
Chris Morris, of Local Energy Scotland, said: “The register shows not just the financial value of community benefit funds, providing sustainable income to Scottish communities every year, but also shows what can be achieved with the revenue.
“We strongly encourage developers and communities alike to visit the register and browse the information available, and of course upload information of any schemes in which they are involved.”
Joss Blamire, senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “This new figure shows quite clearly the huge contribution green energy projects are making to communities across Scotland.
“Without onshore wind, many of the worthy projects which have been supported so far simply could not have gone ahead.”
He added: “Community benefit payments are just a part of the overall picture here: onshore wind in Scotland is delivering clean energy and jobs and investment, as well as helping meet our 2020 climate change targets.
“Onshore wind employs almost 3,400 people in Scotland and latest figures show that the sector invested more than £700 million in the country in the year to September 2014.
“Community benefit payments, which can last for up to 20 years, are just part of that picture - but they’re a part which is increasingly important to some of Scotland’s most remote areas.”
Energy minister Fergus Ewing stated: “These figures demonstrate how community benefits from renewables offer an unprecedented opportunity to improve people’s lives.
“Over £8.5 million invested in such diverse projects in the last year demonstrates a great level of commitment from developers, large and small, to ensuring that green energy developments harness not only the wind, but the goodwill of local communities.”