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May 22, 2013

Council turns the tables

In 2003, work began in Castlemilk to establish Scotland’s first urban community owned wind turbine. Ownership would be split between two very different communities – Carmunnock,  a well-heeled conservation village and Castlemilk one of Glasgow’s larger housing schemes. The land would be leased from the Council (even though it was Common Good) and the community stood to make around £8m. Everything seemed to be going to plan until the Council had second thoughts about all that cash going into the community’s coffers.



Douglas Dickie, Rutherglen Reformer 

A COMMUNITY group has claimed that Castlemilk could be missing out on millions of pounds of investment if Glasgow City Council build a windpark on Cathkin Braes.

The Castlemilk and Carmunnock Windpark Trust (CCWT) say that their plans for a wind farm on the site could generate up to £8million over the next 20 years for the scheme.

But they claim they have been frozen out of the process by the council, who want to lease the land to an energy company instead.

The CCWT was set up eight years ago to look at sites in and around the Braes area that would be suitable for renewable energy projects. The group received planning permission in 2009, but the council refused to grant a land lease.

The group has spent up to £400,000 carrying out surveys, reports and consultations, and even has access to the national grid. The plan was to sell electricity generated on the site and reinvest the money in community projects in the Castlemilk and Carmunnock areas.

However, the group claims Glasgow City Council want to lease the land to Scottish Southern. The council recently won a court battle to build the turbine on what had previously been common good land.

CCWT claim that the council intend on using all the information they gathered but have only offered 100 per cent of the council’s profits from Scottish Southern for one year, and a further 10 per cent cut for the four years after.

Margo Smith, the Project Development Manager for CCWT, reckons that could be a total of just £250,000.

She said: “It is the local community that will be losing out. The trust could have generated between six and £8million a year. We have tried to negotiate but the council have made it clear they don’t want us involved. We have done basically everything for them but we won’t even make back what we have spent doing surveys and reports.”

Chair of the trust board, Ken McCready, said they may have accepted an offer of £750,000, which was what an independent review valued the initial project at, but that no concrete offer was on the table.

He added: “I wouldn’t want to put a figure on what this might be worth, but it would certainly be an worthwhile income for the local community. We are now waiting on the council to come back and make a factual offer.”

Mr McCready confirmed that CCWT had identified potential other sites for their windfarm, but new projects were at a very early stage.

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said they couldn’t comment on the individual points raised.

They said: “At this stage, the council does not have a deal on a lease – so it is impossible for it to make a final cash offer to the trust, which is what it has asked for. We intend to take the income over the first five years of the project and have offered the trust 100 per cent of that value in the first year and 10 per cent in each of the next four.”