Monday, 1 July 2013

Sturgeon opens community wind farm
13 May 2013

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to open a wind farm in which residents have a cash stake. Neilston wind farm is the first joint ownership venture between a wind farm developer and a community in Scotland. Residents of the East Renfrewshire village bought a 28% share in the four-turbine, 10 MW-capacity scheme by onshore wind farm developer Carbon Free Developments.

They raised £950,000 to purchase their stake, loaned in part by the Scottish Government and other organisations including the West of Scotland Loan Fund and Social Investment Scotland. The idea is that the loans will be paid off with income raised from selling electricity to the National Grid. It is expected that money will be become available for use by the Neilston Development Trust from 2018 19 onwards.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The Neilston Community Wind Farm is a great example of community-led regeneration, which is why the Scottish Government is supporting this £15.6 million development with a £250,000 investment as a pilot for the Renewable Energy Investment Fund.

"Industry figures show that Scotland's renewable energy sector has attracted £2.8 billion of investment in Scotland since 2009. This government is focused on supporting the growth of local and community ownership of renewable energy so that communities can share the rewards of Scotland's vast natural resources".

Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Development Trust, which purchased the stake, said: "We want to make Neilston a better, more sustainable place to live and realised that we, as a community, needed to secure income to make this happen.

"We partnered with Carbon Free Developments to build our own wind farm and now we have secured funding for 20 years that will deliver projects across the community. We didn't rely on grants to fund this-all the capital we raised was in the form of loans and will be repaid. "I think we've shown that communities in Scotland can control their own destiny by becoming involved in the development and ownership of renewables".