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June 18, 2008

Harvesting the wind – the new cash crop

The island of Tiree has built a reputation as a haven for windsurfers. Culminating each year in the world famous Tiree Wave Classic, water sports makes a vital contribution the island’s economy. The constant flow of wind is about to be converted into another very significant cash flow for the island’s development trust

Tiree Community Development Trust

‘Tiree – Harvesting the Wind’ is a five year project based on the Isle of Tiree in Argyll. The project has been designed by the community bring stability to the islands future sustainability. The project will be managed by the Tiree Community Development Trust (The Trust).

The plan is to build a wind turbine which will be owned and managed by the community. Electricity produced by the turbine will be sold to the national grid and the money from sales will be used to support community development on Tiree.

Included in the project is provision of funds to pay for the Tiree Trust and its core activities. Staff will be employed to help the directors to carry out the Trust’s work. The staff will also work with the relevant agencies and the island community organisations to progress development on the ground.

The project will benefit the whole community of Tiree by providing an income. The island community is exposed to the kind of issues associated with isolation such as limited services and infrastructure.

It is expected that the turbine will generate around £3.9m over its 25 year life

The combination of isolation and a small population means that the cost of development on Tiree is higher than on the mainland. Tiree has relied for many years on public funding and local fund-raising to support development – this new revenue will alleviate the lack of available funds for development.

Many of the islands activities and services are currently provided by the twenty or so voluntary organisations on Tiree. These are wide ranging and cross all sectors of the community. This project will allow the Trust to support these groups both practically and financially.

Basic island services and facilities which presently rely on public funding often suffer from competition for funds. Complicated application processes, restrictive criteria and need for endless exhausting community fund-raising add to the difficulties which the community has in securing money for development. The community have designed this project to generate revenue which belongs to the community, this will reduce the amount of bureaucracy volunteers have to deal with, reduce volunteer fatigue and stop any potential loss of facilities and activities.

The Trust board of Directors will oversee the project and continue to look at future development plans for the island with the support of a full-time development manager. The Directors will report to the community through local publicity, direct mail and public and membership meetings.

The project budget will be managed by a part-time Finance & Governance Manager overseen by the Treasurer. Monthly reports will be made to the directors at board meeting. An annual financial report will be made to the membership at the A.G.M.

Tiree Renewable Energy Limited (TREL) which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trust, has nine voluntary directors and was set-up to develop the wind turbine. Two Trust directors are also directors of TREL; this creates a line of communication between the two boards.

Advice and expertise will be sought from external professionals, agency advisors and other community trusts for any project work considered to be too difficult for the Trust Directors and staff to manage. As the project progresses it is anticipated that local knowledge and skills will grow. Any training required for local people involved in project development will be organised. Advice will be taken at all times to ensure that benefits are maximised.