Strong support for SSEN Transmission's first ever community benefit fund as next steps outlined
Over 70% of stakeholders show support for SSEN Transmission’s community benefit fund plans
The fund will see local people benefit directly from the transmission network infrastructure they host for the first time
Earlier this year, SSEN Transmission launched a consultation to seek views on plans for its first ever community benefit scheme, which will see the company working with communities across the north of Scotland to channel funds into vital local projects.
The north of Scotland transmission network is set to provide over 15% of the UK’s total carbon reduction required to deliver 2050 net zero targets, and SSEN Transmission believes new funds should recognise the vital role that local communities in the area will play in hosting the transmission infrastructure that is required to help to make net zero a reality.
The six-week long consultation with various stakeholders from across the north of Scotland encouraged participants to share their views on the initial planning for development of the fund. The consultation concluded with the company receiving around 140 responses from local residents, authorities and other interested parties. And today, the company has published a detailed report that shows strong support for the fund proposals, with over 70% of those who responded indicating their support for the initiative.
Feedback received from the consultation has provided valuable insight and represents a wide range of views reflective of the diverse communities of the north of Scotland. The feedback has been rich in terms of sharing on-the-ground experience and generous in its desire to achieve the best possible outcome for communities likely to fall into the proposed scope for the fund.
SSEN Transmission will now further refine its Community Benefit Fund plans and, where invited to do so in the responses, will follow up with individual organisations to gather further insight ahead of the UK Government’s recommendations and guidance from their recent consultation, Community Benefits for Electricity Transmission Network Infrastructure, being published later this year.
After that, the company expects to formally launch its first ever Community Benefit Fund in 2024.
Once it’s up-and-running, the fund will enable over £10m to be spent on delivering a sustainable and positive legacy for the communities that are hosting large net zero infrastructure assets in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire, Orkney, Shetland, Angus and Argyll.
The company is working with the energy regulator, Ofgem, to move the Community Benefit Fund proposal forward, and is looking to put it in place for transmission infrastructure projects which have already been approved, have an investment value of £100m or more, and for which construction has already commenced or will commence between now and 2026.
Speaking as the report on the fund consultation was launched, SSEN Transmission’s Director of Customers and Stakeholders, Christianna Logan, said: “We’re delighted with the response we received from local communities during our six-week consultation on our first community benefit fund in the north of Scotland. As a stakeholder-led business, feedback is crucial in helping to shape our fund strategy, and to know that over 70% of the people who took part are supportive of our plans is a great start.
“It’s really important that we recognise the vital role that communities play by hosting critical national infrastructure, and getting this fund up-and-running will be a big step in doing just that.
“The initial £10m will have a lasting positive economic impact in the region and we’re excited to be working with communities and other stakeholders to make sure that investment decisions are made wisely.”
Looking to the future, and their critical Pathway to 2030 projects, SSEN Transmission is working with the UK and Scottish Governments to establish an even more ambitious community benefit framework for projects that are currently being consulted on and are due to be delivered by the end of the decade and beyond.
Read the full report on SSEN Transmission’s community benefit fund consultation here.