The UK’s largest community wind farm project is set to generate more than £20 million over the next two decades for local people, the scheme’s backers have said.
Residents in Scotland’s remote Western Isles have secured more than £10 million for the project to erect three 2.3 megawatt turbines on the island of South Uist.
The money raised from the renewable energy scheme will be reinvested in the community, with funds earmarked to improve tourism, leisure and port facilities and boost local businesses.
The Storas Uibhist Trust, which manages a 93,000-acre estate covering the islands of Benbecula, Eriskay and South Uist following a community buy-out by residents, has secured £8 million financing from the Co-operative Bank for the project.
The scheme, which will see the turbines installed by August, has also received £1 million of grant and loan funding from Social Investment Scotland and £2.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund.
Angus MacMillan, chairman of Storas Uibhist, said: “This project has always been about generating income to reinvest to the local community for the benefit of the people who live on the islands of Eriskay, Benbecula and South Uist.
“We are now looking to the future when Storas Uibhist, in partnership with other local organisations, can make the best use of this revenue and the people of this estate can take their future into their own hands and transform these islands into a vibrant and growing place to live and work.
“This could only have happened with community ownership and demonstrates that when communities can manage their own assets, they are able to transform their futures.”
Chris Matthews, renewable energy manager at the Co-operative Bank, said: “This scheme pushes the boundaries of community renewable energy. The quality of life for many residents on the islands will be improved as a result, helping to create local jobs and diversify its economy at a time when, like many communities, it is facing significant economic and social pressures.”
Residents of the islands took control of the estate, which is famous for sea trout and brown trout fishing and home to wildlife including golden eagles and white-tailed eagles, five years ago.
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