Economic lift as South Uist wind farm agrees £8.5m refinancing deal

Bryan Fashola, director of specialist sectors, Lombard, and Iain McFee, senior relationship manager at Royal Bank of Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Bryan Fashola, director of specialist sectors, Lombard, and Iain McFee, senior relationship manager at Royal Bank of Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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A community-owned wind farm in the Western Isles that supplies hundreds of crofters with electricity has secured a multi-million funding boost.

The 6.9-megwatt wind farm, which is located on the South Uist estate and is owned by Storas Uibhist, generates power to supply some 850 tenant crofters with electricity, as well as providing an income for the communities of Eriskay, South Uist and parts of Benbecula.

It has secured an £8.5 million refinancing deal from Lombard and Royal Bank of Scotland, securing its operation and other community projects.

Storas Uibhist, a community-owned company, oversees the operation of the wind farm, in addition to a number of other projects across the 93,000-acre South Uist estate, including the management and maintenance of the Bonnie Prince Charlie trail, the Lochboisdale Harbour and the Askernish Golf Course.

Bumper buyout

Purchased in 2006 at a cost of £4.6m, the acquisition of the estate remains the largest community buyout since the Land Reform Act was passed by the Scottish Government in 2003.

Mary Schmoller, chairwoman of Storas Uibhist, said: “The goal of Storas Uibhist is to support and protect the natural, social and economic assets of the islands to create a vibrant and sustainable economy, one that attracts people, both to visit, live and work.

“The wind farm not only ensures the islands have a sustainable source of electricity, it also generates income we can reinvest back into the communities of South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula to boost the economy, protect local crofting practices and generate employment opportunities for future generations.

“We’d like to thank Royal Bank of Scotland and Lombard for its support and understanding of our goals.”

Future

Iain McFee, senior relationship manager, Western Isles at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Storas Uibhist is working to secure the future of these islands and the revenue generated by the wind farm is a key part of this. We’re pleased to be supporting a business that puts the interests of community first.”

Bryan Fashola, director of specialist sectors at Lombard, added: “As one of the leading enablers of investment in the renewable and energy efficiency market, we are pleased to have supported Storas Uibhist in ensuring continuity of this significant and impactful community-owned project, as we continue to play our part in helping accelerate the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.”

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