COMMUNITY groups wanting to build a wind turbine at Seafield have won more than £50,000 funding after beating off competition from nearly 1000 other renewable projects in a public vote.
The money, together with a grant already secured from the Scottish Government, will allow the groups behind the turbine plan – Pedal Portobello Transition Town and Greener Leith – to complete feasibility studies for the proposal and take it right up to planning application stage.
If all goes well, the turbine – which would be between 80 and 125 metres high and is to be sited at Seafield waste water works – could be up and generating electricity by mid-2013.
The project narrowly won the online vote held on Energyshare.com. The contest was a collaboration between River Cottage and British Gas, with awards totalling £500,000 up for grabs.
Eva Schonveld, chairwoman of Pedal Portobello Transition Town, said: “We’re delighted to have won so much support for the project, and would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us.
“The funding is very welcome and will allow us to complete the final stage of feasibility work, but just as valuable is the massive support from local people that this vote represents.”
Charlotte Encombe, chairwoman of Greener Leith, said: “A big thank you to everyone who voted online, tweeted, facebooked, blogged and badgered their friends and colleagues to support the project. We’re delighted to be the most popular project, but the turbine is not built yet. We still have a number of hurdles to overcome, but this vote gives a clear message that the project has widespread support.”
The turbine, expected to cost between £1 million and £3.5m to build, would be the UK’s first community-owned turbine and could power between 300 and 1300 homes. Money raised through the sale of the electricity would be pumped back into community projects.
Chas Booth, a trustee for Greener Leith, said the groups expected to get around £58,000 to add to £118,000 from the government to pay for detailed monitoring of wind speeds, ecological surveys to ensure there was no threat to birdlife and carry out other technical work.
The groups are already in discussions with site owner Scottish Water and site operator Stirling Water and hope to apply for planning permission next year.
Mr Booth said: “We also need to talk to people who live in the area and the community council and see what their views are. If they say they want a smaller turbine, we will listen to that. If they say they want a larger one because it’s going to generate more electricity and it’s more of a symbol, we’ll listen to that, too.”
He said if the feasibility studies were positive, the group expected to have to borrow to finance the building of the turbine, but would still have to find up to 20 per cent of the cost through fundraising.