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Community Energy Strategy: shared ownership — shared responsibility

By Andrew Meaden

The Community Energy Strategy published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set the expectation that ‘by 2015 it will be the norm for communities to be offered some level of ownership of new, commercially developed onshore renewable projects’. As a step towards achieving this aim, DECC requested the establishment of the ‘Shared Ownership Taskforce’ formed of representatives from the renewables industry (‘Industry Taskforce’). The Industry Taskforce’s mandate was to liaise with communities and, by September 2014, produce a robust framework and timetable for the implementation of widespread community ownership of renewables projects.

While engagement with the Community Energy Strategy is nominally voluntary, DECC made it clear that if by 2015 progress towards its community ownership objectives is unsatisfactory, it will consider requiring, by law, all developers to offer shared ownership to communities. This imperative was given further teeth in the draft Infrastructure Bill published on 6 June 2014 (‘Draft Bill’). The Draft Bill sets out a broad enabling power (to be activated, or not, at DECC’s option) to give community residents and/or community groups the right to invest in renewable electricity generation projects located within their community.

In this policy context, the Industry Taskforce published its Draft Report for Consultation on 23 June 2014 (‘Draft Report’). The Draft Report sets out the Industry Taskforce’s initial proposals for shared ownership and invites further views from renewable industry stakeholders, before publication of its final report in September 2014…

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