Rural Businesses

The Scottish Government believes that local ownership of renewable energy projects will increase rural incomes, contribute to climate change targets and increase the resilience of Scotland’s rural businesses.

CARES can help rural businesses, land managers, farmers, rural small and medium enterprises, and profit-distributing cooperatives. Local Energy Scotland has a network of local development officers who can provide you with free and impartial advice.

To reflect the Scottish Government’s aspirations outlined in the Community Energy Policy Statement and Good Practice for community benefit and shared ownership, all CARES applications after the Summer 2015 CARES panel will be required to offer a degree of community ownership.  There will be additional grant support available for rural businesses, housing association, local authorities, third sector organisation to assist with the work required in preparing promoting a shared ownership offer.  

Download our flyer here for more information.

+++STOP PRESS - Rural Energy Challenge Fund now open +++

The Scottish Government has launched the Rural Energy Challenge Fund, designed to help farms, land managers and SMEs in rural communities to develop proposals for sustainable energy schemes.   Find out more >  


Launch the video

Get In Touch

If you would like to find out more about how Local Energy Scotland can help you benefit from renewable energy please get in touch for free advice and support.

Pre-Planning Loan


The support from our local development officer has been vital in accessing CARES. Without the financial support from CARES we would not have been able to progress and consider taking forward a successful project at the same time as developing a new dairy on the farm

The Pre-Planning Loan provides support to rural businesses taking forward plans for renewable energy generation schemes on land they own or could lease from a land owner.

Applications are competitive and will be taken until funds are fully allocated.

This loan will cover up to 95% of pre-planning costs such as Environmental Impact Assessments and technical feasibility studies. The maximum loan per entity is £150,000. Applicants must contribute a minimum of 5% and must fund any recoverable VAT. Credit checks are undertaken but security is not required. Interest is charged at 10% per annum from the date of each drawdown. 

Successful projects will be required to provide a community benefit payment of at least £10,000 per installed MW annually. Support is available to assist applicants in the community consultation process - guidance is available here. We also have template community benefit legal agreements - with guarantee and without guarantee.

We know not all projects will lead to local energy generation and if your project does not progress due to failure to gain planning consent or other major obstacles then the loan may be written off.

See the Pre-planning Loan Guidance here.

You can complete an Expression of Interest Form by clicking here and submitting a Project Enquiry, or to find out more about CARES loans please contact your local development officer.

Our free online toolkit will help you work through the necessary steps to take forward a renewable energy project. It’s a great starting point, packed with useful resources and will give you a good basis to think about taking your project forward.

View the toolkit

Your 4 steps to getting started

  • 1


  • First thoughts of what might be possible with help from Local Energy Scotland to shape your idea.

  • 2


  • Local Energy Scotland can support you with the CARES loan through the necessary feasibility work to take the idea forward

  • 3


  • Take project through planning and on to construction. If successful, our tools and resources will help you work towards financial close.

  • 4


  • Once operational, your project will support your business diversification and provide community benefit funds towards local community priorities.