Regen has submitted a response to the government’s open consultation on their recommended approach to community benefits for electricity transmission network infrastructure, led by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Government guidance to set expectations for industry and communities to take a fair and consistent approach to the development of community benefits is expected to be published later this year, with the intention to incorporate feedback from this consultation.
Ensuring that communities can benefit from the development of new electricity transmission infrastructure projects is an important element of ensuring a just transition and increasing community support for infrastructure investment. We therefore welcome the suggestion to provide community benefit schemes for this infrastructure. However, while we support the consultation, we have several recommendations regarding the current suggestions that we set out in detail in our consultation response. Our main recommendations include the following:
- There is a need to ensure that high-quality engagement is provided alongside community benefits.
- There will be a need to provide additional support to communities who may be unfamiliar with how to use community benefit funds.
- While we support the use of community benefit payments, we do not support the idea of direct payments as we expect this will create many challenges and delays. Direct payments are also not conducive to a fair distribution of community benefits.
- While we support a swift transition to providing community benefits, which a voluntary approach enables, we suggest that this should become mandatory and standardised (while enabling flexibility in the form and scale of community benefits).
- We suggest that there is a need for more joined-up thinking across government departments so that this aligns with community benefit funds for generation infrastructure.
The consultation deadline has been extended and is now open until 15 June 2023. You can respond directly online via the online consultation portal Citizen Space here, or by emailing a response to firstname.lastname@example.org.