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By Energy 4 All
Two English farmers have recently begun enjoying the benefits of a wind farm on their land with the enthusiastic support of thousands of local people who own shares in the projects.
Westmill Wind Farm in Oxfordshire has been the ambition of farmer Adam Twine for over 15 years. Adam always hoped the project might be community owned but had to talk to commercial developers when it looked as though his dreams could not be achieved. However when they lost interest, Adam teamed up with Energy4All, a social enterprise specialising only in community ownership projects.
Once the project had planning consent, Energy4All formed a co-operative and local people were invited to buy shares. Over £4m was raised from 2,500 members and Energy4All was able to raise extra finance from the Co-operative Bank to enable the project to go ahead. Construction took place in early 2008 and the site is now in full production with 5 x 1.3MW Siemens turbines. As Adam says: “We have achieved the best of all worlds. Not only do I have a wind farm on my land, which is something I have always wanted. I also have the great satisfaction of knowing that my friends and neighbours have a share in the project. Financially I am as well off as I would have been with a commercial developer, and payments from the project to the co-operative members will help the local economy. The icing on the cake is that the co-op is setting up an Environmental Trust to support local energy and environmental good causes, so everyone benefits.”
Over in South Lincolnshire, Nicholas Watts has 3 x 2MW turbines on his land, forming part of an 8-turbine site owned by the EDF group. As part of a deal with the developers, the local community had the option of buying two of the turbines, a project strongly supported by Nicholas Watts. Again, Energy4All formed a co-op and raised capital though a public share issue, concentrating on the local area. The deal was finally signed at the end of 2008 so that 1,100 people now own a stake in the turbines on the farm. Nicholas Watts sees initiatives like this as essential to encourage public engagement with climate change: “I am delighted to have local people benefiting from the development. We welcome co-op members to the farm on open days and there is always tremendous interest in the project and pride in ownership. Why shouldn't green ethics and a financial return go hand in hand? It benefits everyone”.
Energy4All is also very active in Scotland through its subsidiary Energy4All Scotland, and in the past couple of years has created 4 co-ops on large commercial wind farms owned by Falck Renewables. Each one has raised around £1m and
several thousand Scots now have a direct interest in their local wind farm.
Energy4All is actively looking for landowners in Scotland with an interest in some community ownership of a wind farm on their land. Any farmer or group of farmers with a suitable potential project or site and a wish to follow these examples should contact us.