First-ever legal roadmap launched to support community energy projects in the UK

For the Welsh version of this article click here.

We have unveiled the first-ever legal roadmap to support the creation of community owned renewable energy projects, to help coalfield communities harness environmental and socio-economic benefits and work towards achieving the ambitious renewables targets set by the UK Government.

The ‘Legal Structures for Community Energy Projects’ report has been launched as part of Community Energy Fortnight (13 -28 June). Coordinated by Community Energy England this year’s campaign focuses upon the theme #HarnessOurPower which will see community energy organisations and supporters connect and highlight the inspirational and adaptive response to the evolution of this sector.

The comprehensive report provides invaluable guidance to those groups committed to harnessing the power of renewable energy to create lasting change in some of the most deprived areas across the UK.

Alun Taylor, Head of Operations (Wales), comments: “Community owned energy projects have huge potential. Not just in supporting the regeneration of former coalfields but also in helping the UK to achieve the ambitious target of becoming a net zero emission economy by 2050. But, this can only be achieved if implemented with sound governance.

“These schemes can take many legal forms; they are diverse and complex, so choosing the correct structure can be complicated. The challenge is that at present, there is little if any, guidance available. By commissioning industry experts to create comparisons on the legal structures for community renewable energy projects, we are providing a vital and valuable resource that is easy to access through our website.”

Recognising the urgent need, we commissioned Wrigleys Solicitors, who are leading advisors to the charitable and social sectors, to provide a comprehensive roadmap to navigate the legalities.

The ‘Legal Structures for Community Energy Projects’ report identifies the varied forms of legal structures, presents a robust analysis of their unique features and examines each of the structure’s comparative advantages and disadvantages when used for community energy projects.

Alun continues: “There is significant demand for communities to work collaboratively with local authorities to launch alternative ways of generating financial support. The advantages being the returns can then be put back into helping rejuvenate former mining communities.

“Once the power and control of these renewable energy projects are successfully transferred to local residents, they will be provided with access to affordable clean energy and have the opportunity to generate surplus income. Fundamentally, these funds can then be reinvested back into the communities, which can be used to protect local assets and services.”

Alun adds: “Developing long-lasting partnerships with community owned businesses sits at the core of what we do, especially when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our local residents. We believe that community owned renewable energy projects can be a major catalyst in helping improve the way of life for many people within these regions. We will continue to provide the support needed to make them a reality.”

Established in 1999, we are the only organisation dedicated to supporting former mining towns and villages.

Over the years we have helped more than 2m people. More than 25,500 people have been supported into work, 5,500 jobs have been created or safeguarded, 1.3m people have received the necessary support to help improve their skills and gain qualifications and over 250,000 people have participated in activities that have improve their health.

To access a copy of the report, ‘Legal Structures for Community Energy Projects’, please click the following links for the English or Welsh version.

If you would like information about the wider schedule of targeted initiatives that have been developed to meet with three priorities for action; employment, skills and health and wellbeing, please call 01226 272800 and for regular updates follow @CoalfieldsRegen.

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