Huntly & District Development Trust
Facts & Figures
The community of Huntly and District established Huntly & District Development Trust (HDDT) in 2009 as a follow up to the Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership (ATP), which aimed to help towns in the shire become better places to live, work and visit. Located on the periphery of Aberdeenshire, Huntly missed out on the oil and gas boom enjoyed by Aberdeen and its nearby towns. Huntly’s residents have instead learned how to make their own luck and are not afraid to do things differently.
One key example is HDDT’s embrace of green initiatives. The Trust purchased a local farm, Greenmyres, to use it as a site for a community wind turbine. This asset is set to bring HDDT ca £3 million pounds in revenue to cover running costs and fund other projects over the next 20 years. HDDT is also exploring the potential for the wind power to be combined with solar output from the farm to create green hydrogen for local transportation. Meanwhile, the rest of the 63 acre site is evolving. The farmhouse and outbuildings are being converted into a hub for community initiatives and a base for outdoor activities in the surrounding area, especially since construction of a link foot/cyclepath into the neighbouring Gartly Moor Forest. HDDT also provides electric bikes and hybrid cars as part of a community car club to help people get around in a convenient, low-cost, green way.
Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status
Income streams from three local wind projects, two as the Trust directly and one through HDDT’s wholly-owned trading subsidiary, Greenmyres Renewable Energy Ltd. The Trust also owns the 63 acre Greenmyres Farm, ten electric bikes and the archive of the local newspaper the Huntly Express.
Value of assets
Roots & Links
The Aberdeenshire Towns Partnership (ATP) was an alliance of three public sector partners – Communities Scotland, Scottish Enterprise Grampian and Aberdeenshire Council – which aimed to improve participating towns. Between 2005 and the end of the ATP programme in 2008, ATP Huntly helped community groups carry out many different projects to improve the town, in line with the community’s 2020 vision for Huntly and its related action plan. These included projects to develop the town’s economy, improve the area’s environment, celebrate and promote the town’s rich heritage and culture and build community capacity. Examples include supporting the establishment of the Huntly Farmers Market, the Huntly Rewards card scheme, producing the Huntly Handbook, developing a website and funding part of the Huntly Shop Enhancement Scheme. ATP Huntly also promoted George MacDonald – a Victorian Novelist, Poet and Christian Fantasy writer (1824-1905) who inspired JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, M and several other authors in their works.
An earlier trust, Huntly Ltd, was also dedicated to making Huntly a better place via path building projects, skills developments and other initiatives. The trust organised the Gordon 2000 Event – a celebration of Huntly as the home of the Gordon Clan. The three-day festival attracted people from all over the world including all the Gordons from America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
The HDDT Board of Directors is made up of committed volunteers who bring a variety of skills and expertise to the Trust from a diverse range of backgrounds. HDDT staff deliver the projects and the day to day running of the organisation, with volunteers helping out regularly. The board currently has seven directors.
Works closely with many local organisations including Deans of Huntly, Deveron Projects, Gordon Rural Action, Huntly Business Association, Huntly Community Council, Huntly and District Tourism Action Group, Huntly Ethical Trading Initiative, Huntly Farmers Market Association, Huntly Hairst, Huntly Rewards Businesses, Huntly Rotary Club, Networks of Wellbeing, and more.
Aberdeenshire Council, Community Energy Scotland, Development Trust Association Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Glass Community Association, Grampian Housing Association, Grampian Fire and Rescue, Grampian Police, Historic Environment Scotland, Marr Area Partnership, NHS Grampian, Scottish Cycling, Scottish Natural Heritage, Strathbogie Community Council, Tap O’Noth Community Council, University of Aberdeen, VisitAberdeenshire.
Plans for a central farm hub at Greenmyres farm for community events of all kinds. Will link to the surrounding forest and area to facilitate outdoor recreation.
Builds Local Capacity
Works with numerous organisations to help develop Huntly’s infrastructure, economy, society, mobility and environment.
HDDT’s community wind turbine based on Greenmyres Farm generates green energy and contributes to the trust’s core costs – staffing, premises and overheads – as well as generating money for other projects. HDDT also runs a car club with two modern, fuel efficient hybrid cars and provides electric bikes for hire. Previously, the Trust undertook consultation on a range of projects, organised events and developed several promotional initiatives for Huntly.
Secured an ideal site for a community wind turbine in the form of Greenmyres Farm, which, once the initial debt is paid, will bring the Trust an estimated £3 million pounds over the next 20 years.
HDDT almost ran out of money and nearly went bust in 2013. While struggling to secure a site for a wind turbine, the Trust lost a partner and a key source of income along with it. HDDT had found a site next to an existing turbine cluster only for the landowner to change his mind. Without sufficient income and site for a turbine to find their future, HDDT was only weeks from closing its doors.
Thankfully, the trust won a small piece of consultancy work for an Aberdeenshire Council cycle initiative to stave off closure. In the same week, HDDT saw Greenmyres Farm on the market and the Scottish Land Fund reopen with renewed ambition to put a million acres of Scotland’s land into community ownership by 2020.
Putting two and two together, and with the help of many others, the Trust bought the farm, erected the wind turbine and began to generate income and start delivering projects on the ground.
Being alert to opportunities is crucial for any Trust to keep the doors open and the lights on.
Along with its buildings and 63 acres of land and hillside, the Trust will use Greenmyres Farm as a rural community hub, and connect it by footpaths to the nearby village of Insch, via the vast Gartly Moor forest and hills on its doorstep, and of course Huntly itself. It also plans to run events for rural businesses, outdoor activities for schools and all manner of others.
HDDT also has ambitions to purchase one or more buildings in Huntly town centre in order to kickstart the regeneration process. As part of this process, HDDT hopes to offer community shares to give residents a sense of ownership when it comes to improving their community and regenerating the Huntly town centre.
HDDT is also conscious that the wind turbine finance model will only last 15-20 years and is already looking at ways to replace this income income. This may include acting as a social landlord, a community housing company, a commercial housing firm or using a completely different model.
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