A community-owned wind turbine looks set to be the gift that keeps on giving for a rural Aberdeenshire village when it is powered up tomorrow.
Electricity generated by the 77-metre tall turbine is expected to bring in £75,000 a year for the Buchan village of Fetterangus, known locally as Fishie and home to around 350 people.
The money, which will come from feed-in tariffs earned by supplying energy to the national grid, will be spent on regenerating the local community and encouraging youngsters to stay in the area.
Pioneered by the Fetterangus Community Association and inspired by similar schemes on the islands of Gigha, Tiree and Lewis, the £1.5 million project has taken nine years to come to fruition.
Now, as the 800kw turbine starts feeding electricity into the grid, residents will finally start reaping the rewards of their efforts – and should continue to do so for the next 25 years or more.
It will generate enough power to meet the electricity needs of nearly 300 homes and will change the face of the village according to the association’s Colin Wood, who headed up the project.
“It has been a long journey involving dozens of local people and lots of hurdles, but it has definitely been worth it,” Mr Wood said. This is the best Christmas present our village could have. The turbine is going to transform Fetterangus. We have been looking for a regular, sustainable income that will help us fund projects in our village and the turbine is the perfect solution.”
A number of initiatives have been earmarked to receive a share of the cash, but the top priorities are renovating the village hall, buying playing fields for the local football club, building affordable houses to help younger generations get on the property ladder and developing a new sports complex with green technology.
“The income from the turbine will empower the Fetterangus community to decide their own destiny as well as providing a legacy for future generations,” added Mr Wood. “It means we won’t have to be hanging on the coat-tails of the council when we want to go forward with plans that will benefit the village.”
The project has been funded by the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), the Big Lottery and a loan from Triodos Bank.
A spokesman from Community Energy Scotland, the charity that administers CARES funding, paid tribute to the efforts put in by the villagers to get the scheme off the ground.
“Now Fetterangus will not need to go cap-in-hand to anyone when it comes to improving their community. It’s down to themselves,” he said.
“As the loan gets paid off, the income stream will increase. With that sort of money behind it, a community gains confidence and can borrow to fund other, bigger schemes in the future.”
Triodos has been involved with the Aberdeenshire project since 2007. It has another similar development at Gòb Sgùrabhal, the most north-westerly point of the Isle of Barra.