A unique joint venture between a private developer and a community-owned development trust, was today (Wednesday 9th February) given the go-ahead by East Renfrewshire Council.
The model represents one that could benefit communities across Scotland if replicated elsewhere.
Neilston Community Wind Farm, a 9MW, four-turbine development is expected to generate up to £11 million (eleven million pounds sterling) in profits for community use over the life of the wind farm.
The joint venture model for this community wind farm was developed by Carbon Free Developments Ltd (Carbon Free) and proposed to its community partner, Neilston Development Trust (NDT) is the first of its kind in Scotland.
It was specifically designed to address the main reasons why community-led wind farm developments often fail – namely the scarcity of speculative capital to fund the development process and the lack of specialised development knowledge within the community.
Under the joint venture arrangements, Carbon Free both funded and managed the high-risk development process in exchange for NDT communicating the benefits of the wind farm to the local community and enlisting the community’s support.
Neilston Community Wind Farm (NCWF), the joint venture between Carbon Free Developments Ltd (CFDL) and the Neilston Development Trust (NDT), will now install the turbines at the site adjacent to a former landfill at Drumgrain Tip near Kingston Road.
Today’s planning consent for the four turbine site confirms that the joint venture model provides a way for well-organised and aspirational communities to benefit financially from commercial wind farm ventures without taking on the highly speculative, early stage development associated with wind farms.
Neilston is a small town of 5,000 residents with a proud history of cotton mills; however industry closures and the town’s increasing role as a commuter settlement for Glasgow has led to a loss of its identity during recent decades, a fate shared by many such small towns across Scotland.
Since 2004 however, the Development Trust has been mobilising for change. In 2009, Neilston became Scotland’s first Renaissance Town, a community-led programme that empowers local people to lead the regeneration of their area.
The Town Charter (see here) a manifesto for the community which proposes a 20-year vision for the town, includes renewable energy developments as part of its sustainable future. Today’s consent provides this community with the means to deliver on these ambitions.
Pauline Gallacher of Neilston Development Trust, said:
“This is great news for Neilston and we look forward to helping deliver on the projects outlined in our town charter. The wind farm will help boost the town’s reputation as a place with a holistic vision of its future and help us drive development and change.
“In hard-pressed times, community energy and development trusts are vital parts of the picture.
“Our joint venture adds a new boost to the campaign for community energy as a central plank of the local empowerment agenda, with its potential to bring benefits to both urban and rural communities.”
Dominic Farrugia, Director of Carbon Free, said,
“We’re delighted to have worked with the community to secure consent, and look forward to seeing the aspirations of the community bear fruit.
“We believe this joint venture model has significant potential and we hope that other communities will be encouraged to become involved in Scotland’s green energy revolution.”
The wind farm is expected to be operational in 2012.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 0131 556 0770, out of hours mobile 07739 085023
1. The Neilston Development Trust is an independent charitable company established by the Neilston community to drive the regeneration of the town. For more information visit www.neilstontrust.co.uk . The Trust is taking a 49.9% interest in the wind farm in partnership with Carbon Free. Income generated from its share of the wind farm will be used by the Trust to create a Common Good Fund to support projects such as those described in the recently signed Neilston Town Charter (www.ads.org.uk).
2. Carbon Free is a private company based in Stirling and London. Its sole expertise is the development of on-shore wind farms. Carbon Free recognises that many communities are interested in generating electricity from renewable sources. Whenever possible, Carbon Free works with communities neighbouring its developments to provide such communities with opportunities to share the benefits of renewable energy. www.carbonfreedevelopments.co.uk