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July 11, 2023

Where next for community benefits 

When the idea of community benefit payments was first mooted, it related to wind farm developers and the implication was that these payments were somehow a compensation for the visual impact of sticking up large turbines where previously there had been none. Community benefit has recently become a much more widely applied concept to any changes in land use or ownership. However, much work requires to be done to clarify what form that benefit should take, who should receive it and, most fundamentally of all, why. Useful contribution from Scottish Land Commission in relation to the emerging natural capital market.

Scottish land Commission

We have published a discussion paper drawing together our current thinking on some of the key questions about community benefits from investment in natural capital.

We have proposed a definition of community benefits in this context and a set of expectations about how community benefits should be identified and delivered. For the purposes of this paper, we are referring to investments in natural capital on land.

We have been working with investors, landowners, and other key organisations to explore different approaches to delivering community benefits from investment in natural capital. A series of case studies outline some of the broad approaches taken to in delivering community benefits from natural capital. Personalised support is being provided through our Good Practice Programme for a small number of innovators who want to explore different approaches to community benefits, including shared governance models, financial packages, and local economic development. Working with others involved in this field, we will provide more detailed thought and guidance for policy and practice in mid-2023.

This is a rapidly developing area and we are keen to hear from those already working in the field to test our thinking. We want to identify realistic but ambitious expectations for how investment in natural capital enhancement, restoration and creation projects can deliver community benefits in addition to wider public benefits and private benefits.