PLANS to construct the UK’s largest community-owned windfarm on the Isle of Lewis – which has been handed a £1million boost – is set to create a “quiet revolution” of the island.
The remote Point and Sandwick Development Trust has been awarded £999,718 from the Big Lottery Fund to build the Beinn Ghrideag windfarm – on land where crofters once cut peat for fuel.
Donald McSween, chairman of Point and Sandwick Development Trust, said: “Today’s funding means a quiet revolution can now take place in our community and it is wonderful news.”
The trust aim to generate £36million over the next 25 years by selling electrricity to the National Grid, with profits being pumped back into the community to regenerate parts of the island.
Current plans for reinvestment were developed after a community-wide consultation and include support for the only hospice on Lewis, a scheme to reduce fuel poverty for islanders and funding to offer greater help and support to young islanders with additional needs.
Mr McSween said: “We have a 25 year plan which will lead to a huge change for everyone who lives here. It will give us the tools to turn ourselves around.
“We will no longer have to rely on subsidies and government handouts. We will now be able to help reverse the ageing population and declining demographic which currently has a negative impact on everyone here.”
He added: “Through this project we will be able to provide jobs, training and amenities so we can give our young people more reasons to stay, live, work and prosper in the community where they were born.
“This grant means that our project can go ahead and I’d like to thank the Big Lottery Fund for their support to this point and their endorsement and belief in what we are doing here.”
Sold back to grid
The trust believe the project will generate over £36 million in the next 25 years thanks to an output of 9MW from their three commercial sized turbines.
The Lottery cash will part fund the initial capital costs and fees associated with the installation of three 3MW Enderon Wind Turbines to generate renewable electricity.
It will be sold to the National Grid, generating the revenue which will be reinvested into local community projects.
Big Lottery Fund Scotland Director, Jackie Killeen, said: “The Big Lottery Fund is delighted to support the Point and Sandwick Development Trust as they develop this wind farm.
“Our Growing Community Assets funding is for exactly this kind of project where communities look at what they have and how they can take ownership of those assets to transform the lives of those who live in their local communities.
“This project is about power but not just electricity. With the development of this wind farm the Point and Sandwick Development Trust is now powerfully enabled to shape their own future and offer much needed services to those living remotely on the Isle of Lewis thanks to the revenue this wind farm will bring in the long term.”
The wind farm will be situated four miles west of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The turbines will stand on an area of common land traditionally used for energy production, including an area where crofters cut peat for fuel.