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May 8, 2013

Neilston breaks new ground – again

One community that falls into the pioneering category is Neilston.  The first semi-urban community to invoke the right to buy, a substantial building – formerly the Clydesdale Bank – was purchased and transformed into a community hub by the Neilston Development Trust. The Neilston Charter – a long term development plan for the community – gives strategic focus to their work. And next Monday, another piece of the jigsaw slots into place. The source of a long term income stream under community control will officially begin to turn.


Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, will officially open the £15.6 million, four-turbine Neilston Community Wind Farm on Monday 13 May at 10am. 

The people of Neilston bought a 28% share in the wind farm with their partners Carbon Free Developments. They raised £950,000 in cash to buy their stake, which was loaned in part to them by the Scottish Government and other organisations. 

The arrangement is the first of its kind in Scotland and will give the village of Neilston around £10million of income over the life-time of the wind farm, supporting the village’s sustainable development and empowering residents to make improvements locally. 

The wind farm is the first joint ownership venture between a wind farm developer and a community.  It will generate up to 10MW of electricity each year – double what the village of Neilston uses. 

The Neilston Development Trust (NDT) formed to help deliver Neilston’s Town Charter, which outlined projects and initiatives that could improve the village, including reducing its carbon footprint and promoting social and civic events. 

Pauline Gallacher, projects coordinator for Neilston Development Trust, 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 approached Carbon Free Developments about building our own wind farm and now we have secure funding for 20 years that will go straight into our 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 and work by using the natural resources they have at hand. It has been a long process but it has been worth it – we’ve secured a brighter future for Neilston.”

Dominic Farrugia, Director of Carbon Free Developments, said: “Neilston Community Wind Farm isn’t just a great commercial and technical achievement; it’s a refreshingly different approach to wind farm development. 

“Scotland has ambitious targets to meet in renewable energy – imagine the difference that could be made in generating wealth and community development if more towns and villages worked with developers to co-invest in wind farms.”