Majority Support Community Turbine in Dunbar, U.K.
Majority Support Community Turbine
Author: Bryan Copland
9 February, 2012
A PROPOSED community wind turbine for Dunbar has gained majority support from residents, despite some online dissent.
Nearly two-thirds of the 500-plus households in the Dunbar ward which took part in a consultation exercise said they supported the idea of a community turbine being erected on Cocklaw Hill.
Dunbar Community Energy Company (DCEco) – the trading subsidiary of Sustaining Dunbar which is behind the green energy proposal – believes such a turbine could generate up to £250,000 a year which would be invested back into the community.
It comes as Sustaining Dunbar defends its spending activities in the wake of some public criticism on the Courier website’s comments section.
Of all 5,560 households in the Dunbar ward, about 10 per cent completed questionnaires in which they were asked if they supported the idea of a wind turbine on Cocklaw Hill.
Sixty-one per cent said ‘yes’, 21 per cent said ‘no’, and 18 per cent said they were ‘not bothered’.Locals were also asked their views on turbines which are privately or community-owned.
The survey found that 67.6 per cent of people ‘like’ community turbines; 12.5 per cent are ‘not bothered’ about them and 19.8 per cent ‘don’t like’ them.
While 46.4 per cent ‘like’ private turbines; 21.1 per cent are ‘not bothered’ and 32.4 per cent ‘don’t like’ them.
Malcolm Sayers, DCEco volunteer, said: “While several people were vociferously against our proposals, more than 300 of the 500 responses we received on the doorsteps supported the idea.
“We are still analysing the results but will publish them in full on our website as soon as possible.
We will also post the many ideas for using the money and use these to draw up plans to spend profits which we will also consult upon.”
When asked what consultees would want the money spent on, ‘support for new local businesses’ was the top response.
The turbine would be funded through a commercial loan, with money being set aside outwith the £250,000 to maintain and eventually decommission it 20 years on. Money would be raised by selling electricity to the National Grid.
DCEco’s consultants will now speak to East Lothian Council with a view to submitting a planning application.
But some comments made on the Courier website were less than supportive towards DCEco.
One user, ‘Chucklebunny’, said: “Sustaining Dunbar do not represent the community. Like many organisations fed by generous amounts of taxpayers’ money, they have little accountability to those taxpayers.
“What has Dunbar seen for the money lavished on them? A leaflet about bus and train routes, some information about cycle paths and information about energy use that is readily available from other sources.
“When, as a society, we are cutting back on essential services it’s time for this group to be given their marching orders.”
Sustaining Dunbar is wholly reliant on grant funding – mostly from the Scottish Government – and in the year ended November 30, 2010 had a total income of £248,183.
Of that, £245,410 was various grants – while just £25 came from ‘memberships and other income’. The organisation spent £115,504 on staff costs – more than double the cost of the previous year.
Philip Revell, project co-ordinator for Sustaining Dunbar, told the Courier: “Funding was spent on projects agreed in advance by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund – a very competitive fund open to all communities in Scotland.
“It is for others to judge whether this has been money well spent but the feedback we have received from those who have received one of our free ‘energy audits’, for example, has been overwhelmingly positive and has resulted in an average energy – and hence bill saving – of 18 per cent.
“The Climate Challenge Fund has been extremely positive about the projects we have delivered to date and we are often cited as an example of a community successfully helping to meet the Scottish carbon reduction targets.”
Funded projects include Dunbar 2025 – a vision for the area’s future – and transport initiative Connecting Dunbar.
Sustaining Dunbar – a charity and company limited by guarantee – is run by a board of volunteers, to which staff are accountable.
Members of the public can put themselves forward for election to the board.
Membership of the organisation is free but its constitution does not allow staff to become members. The group says all staff have been appointed after an “open and transparent recruitment process”.