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November 20, 2013

Investment on the doorstep

With high street banks cooling towards community owned renewable energy projects and the days of the Lottery providing the lion share of the necessary finance long since gone, communities are having to explore new avenues to get their projects off the ground. With bank interest rates bumping along at less than the rate of inflation, some entrepreneurial communities have realised that their energy projects are attractive investment propositions in their own right. Mull launched their offer at a public meeting last night.


Green Energy Mull, a newly formed Community Benefit Society. went public yesterday, 8th November, on Garmony Hydro, an inspirational development scheme. Green Energy Mull is born of an initiative by members of Sustainable Mull and Iona Community Trust.

The company gave the green light yesterday to a community share offer – issued with the support of the Co-operative Enterprise Hub – with a target of raising the £1 million needed for Garmony Hydro to generate over 1100MWh per year of hydro power for Mull. This will come from the Allt Achadh na Moine water source on the island’s east coast. The hydro-electric scheme will be built and operated by a newly formed Community Benefit Society, Green Energy Mull, with profits benefiting local island charitable, environmental and education projects.

Green Energy Mull will build and operate the hydro electricity scheme, aiming to get going on construction in the Spring of 2014 and to be producing power by the end of that year. The company has spent a year and a half on research and planning and in discussion with a range of associated bodies – Forestry Commission Scotland, Community Energy Scotland, Scottish and Southern Energy, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Cooperative Development Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council.

Company profits from the scheme will benefit local charitable, environmental and education projects on Mull and its island chain. Green Energy Mull calculates that by the end of its second year of production it will be paying a return on investment of 4-5%. Shares are £50 each and all Investors have equal voting powers regardless of where their share holding lies between the minimum of £250 and the maximum of £20,000.

Founding member of Green Energy Mull, Richard Thorne, says: ‘We are trying to encourage the widest possible participation and raise over a third of the money needed through community ownership. The more money that is raised by community investors the less money we need to borrow. This will then enable us to plough more back into local community, environment, education and charitable projects.’

Michael Fairclough, the Cooperative Bank’s head of Community and Co-operative Investment says: ‘By working together people can be powerful catalysts for change capable of overcoming many of the challenges facing society, the environment and economy. Co-operation can be key to bringing about the changes that people want to see in their communities.’

Mike Story, until very recently the galvanic force behind the rise of both the Argyll and the Isles brand and the tourism initiative that carries that name – and a former Mull resident – says: ‘Great news for Mull. As a former director of the Community Trust I could not be more delighted at this hard earned development.’

Anyone interested in the project and anyone interested in investing in it will find more information and the share offer document on Garmony Hydro’s website here – or telephone Richard Thorne on 01680 812906.

Garmony Hydro is holding an event for the Green Energy Mull share launch on Tuesday 19th November at 7.30pm in Craignure Village Hall. This will explain the advantages of taking up the community share offer,  answer any questions and divulge more about this exiting scheme.

They say they’ll be happy to sell you a few shares as well. Think about it. Where else these days are you likely to get 4-5% on savings? And investing in this will give you a stake in the way all our futures are developing, as more and more communities realise that sustainability is most likely to come from taking charge of their own affairs.