A new government fund of £15 million has been launched which is intended to help community-owned renewable schemes across UK communities.

Many rural areas have now been encouraged to come forward to access money allocated for solar, wind, biomass and other energy generation schemes.

The funding pot will also help these communities to begin projects in the opening stages, with support for investigations about how viable a renewable system would be for the area and assistance with planning permission.

Greg Barker, minister for climate change, said that the scheme and local generation activity will help to "bring people together" and "boost local economies". Furthermore, carbon reducing, clean energy projects will help to encourage green growth and help local residents to reduce their utility bills in the long term, he said.

To support this assessment, Mr Barker cited a previously successful scheme known as the Local Energy Assessment Fund. According to the minister, this scheme helped 236 communities introduce energy generation and management projects.

Grants of up to £20,000 are available to communities looking towards feasibility studies, whereas up to £130,000 can be obtained for assistance with applications, planning and environmental permits.

Secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey has also supported community based generation schemes, claiming that they are able to help local people reap the rewards of clean, green, renewable energy in their homes.

He went on to suggest that the government is looking at ways to achieve this on a wider basis, with more community energy projects expected to be outlined in a new strategy set to be announced in the Autumn.

Richard Benyon, environment and rural affairs minister said: “We are determined to boost the rural economy and protect the environment. As well as boosting renewable energy production, the fund will ensure that communities have the funding they need for local projects and priorities in future.”