March 11, 2015
Share the burden
In the grand schemes of things, community involvement with renewable energy is still in its relative infancy. Nonetheless, it’s a fast moving sector and many windows of opportunity that gaped open just a few years ago have already slammed shut. But new opportunities are always coming along and those who are prepared to innovate and be open to new possibilities can still succeed. The mantra used to be that 100% community ownership was the only way to go. Why so, asked Lesmahagow. Why not spread the risk with those that can afford it?
A wind farm in South Lanarkshire has received more than £8m in funding.
The three-turbine project near the village of Lesmahagow could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 300 homes.
The wind farm is jointly owned by Stewart Energy Ltd and Lesmahagow Development Trust (LDT).
It has received £1.63m from Scottish Enterprise along with a £6m loan and a £500,000 VAT facility from Santander Corporate and Commercial.
The Scottish Enterprise money has come from its renewable energy investment fund (REIF).
LDT is planning to use income from the wind farm to fund projects such as community groups, regeneration of buildings and the purchase of community assets such as sports facilities.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish government remains ambitious for Scotland’s tremendous green energy potential and its ability to transform local communities.
“We continue to lead the way in supporting local and community ownership of renewable energy, most recently through our Community Energy Empowerment programme, which will make it easier for community groups to follow LDT’s example and take a stake in a renewable energy scheme.”
Andrew Stewart, director at Stewart Energy Ltd, said: “I am a passionate believer in renewable energy and the benefits projects like ours can bring to our area if 100% of the ownership is kept local.
“We had always planned to gift the Lesmahagow Development Trust with a stake in the wind farm project but with the establishment of REIF the trust was able to secure a much larger stake.
“We look forward to working closely with Santander and the Scottish government to ensure the project is completed on time.”