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February 17, 2010

Neilston take a different route

Windfarms are never out of the news these days.  While opinions may vary as to their visual impact, there can be no doubt they generate a lot of cash for the owners.  Slowly, and somewhat belatedly, communities are beginning to wake up to the potential opportunities. All sorts of possibilities. The community in Neilston have taken a particularly interesting approach

Groundbreaking Neilston Community Wind Farm Plans Unveiled

Neilston Development Trust (‘NDT’), a charitable social enterprise operating solely for the benefit of the Neilston community, has announced an exciting new initiative for a three turbine community wind farm in Neilston, East Renfrewshire.

Neilston Community Wind Farm LLP is a joint venture arrangement between NDT and commercial developer Carbon Free Developments Ltd (‘Carbon Free’).   This groundbreaking partnership, the first of its kind in the UK, is a collaborative venture.  Carbon Free will direct and fund the development phase of the wind farm.  On receipt of planning consent, NDT will have the opportunity to own approximately half of the three turbine wind farm on identical terms to Carbon Free.  Over the likely 25 year lifespan of the project, profits from NDT’s interest in the wind farm will fund many of the desired community projects described in the recently signed Neilston Renaissance Town Charter . 

Neilston’s ambitions for a community wind farm are identified in the Town Charter as a means for meeting the community’s sustainability aspirations.  NDT had for some time been interested in the idea of community renewables; and recognising that developing a wind farm is technically and financially challenging for a community, was pleased to be introduced to professional renewables developer, Carbon Free. Carbon Free identified an appropriate high quality brownfield site and agreed to provide the specialist technical skills and financial backing required to deliver a consented wind farm project.  If planning consent is obtained, Carbon Free will also be responsible for sourcing the bank finance required to build the wind farm and will help NDT to identify sources of finance to fund its share of the equity contribution required to construct the wind farm.

Having completed the initial feasibility studies to confirm the viability of the site, NDT and Carbon Free are now keen to engage all local residents and community groups to work together to develop the details of the scheme.   An initial meeting with members of the Neilston Town Team was held on Monday 29th June and an enthusiastic response for the continued development of the site was received.  A public exhibition to set out the wind farm proposal and seek the local and surrounding communities’ views on the project will be held in Neilston on 22nd and 23rd August and a further meeting with the Neilston Community Council is scheduled for late August.

Alan Walker, Chairperson of NDT commented:
“At present, there is a great potential for business and communities to work together to realise the environmental and financial benefits of renewable energy. The key to this deal is the level of openness and collaboration between the two parties which will allow us to invest successfully in renewable energy projects for local benefit.   It is our hope that Neilston will embrace the opportunity before us as the wind farm can provide key funding for the delivery of community projects, for instance many of those outlined in the recently ratified Neilston Renaissance Town Charter.”

“Development Trusts are at the forefront of community driven regeneration. NDT is a legal entity with charitable status which, through its trading arm can enter into commercial contracts on behalf of the community.  NDT will thus enable the community’s investment in the partnership with Carbon Free and act as the legal vehicle to deliver the wind farm to the community.  NDT will work with other local groups, such as the Town Team and Community Council, to establish a Neilston Community Wind Farm Working Group to allocate the profits generated from the Wind Farm to specific community projects.”

“We are keen to establish a long term source of revenue to deliver both the ambitions identified in the town charter and the needs of the community.  This proposal presents an opportunity for Neilston to become an exemplar of ways in which communities can both reduce carbon emissions and regenerate the local area. ”

Dominic Farrugia, Managing Director of Carbon Free Developments stated:

“We are delighted to be in partnership with NDT.  Community renewables ownership is something that the Scottish Government strongly encourages.  We see Neilston as the first community in the UK, where we can roll out our unique collaborative development model. This is an exciting project for us and we are looking forward to consulting the wider public on the proposals.  Our long term hope is to see this type of model replicated with other communities throughout the country.”

Local MSP Ken Macintosh stated:
“This is the most exciting stage yet in the development of the Neilston Trust.  Once more the people of Neilston are pioneering the way in community development and in shaping the landscape and future of their own village.  This windfarm could be the key to real community ownership and I urge everyone to get behind the Trust. For more information please visit –