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Hydro-electric power schemes have become more common among rural communities since the first such scheme at Stank Glen, near Callander, began in 2014. This scheme generates around 0.38MW of power for the local community, much of which is sold to the National Grid. This provides an income which, after costs, can then be used for local projects. The Callander Community Hydro Fund is able to offer around £50,000 a year to the local area. 

In Stank Glen, the main infrastructure is hidden underground with a very small dam. This means that since construction, the disturbed land is developing native woodland again. A popular recreation route from the nearby holiday cabins , while creating clean energy for the community and country.

The community in Morvern has now completed the biggest self-developed scheme in Scotland at Barr River (1.6MW). Current applications are made through the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS).

There are three ways that community groups can get more involved in projects:

Community benefit payments

Community groups may be eligible for benefit payments from developer-led renewable energy projects. In 2010 we introduced a standard annual community benefit of £5,000 per MW installed. This became industry standard and is part of the Scottish Government Good Practice Principles.

The community must be an appropriate organisation as outlined in our guidance:

We have produced guidance for developers on their role in agreeing community benefit arrangements:

Community investment

For some developments, community groups can invest in a local development and receive payments from this stake. Investment opportunities are determined by developers and communities.

Community investment on Scotland's national forests and land (PDF) outlines the principles we apply to the financing of community investment opportunities.

Community self-development

Communities are able to develop their own renewable energy schemes on the land we manage through the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS). We working with groups that express an interest in these opportunities.

Further advice

Advice about community benefits and opportunities is available through the Scottish Government CARES contract from Local Energy Scotland or at freephone 0808 808 2288.

Development Trusts Association Scotland, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Community Woodlands Association and Community Energy Scotland may also be able to assist.