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Local ownership in Scotland -- Community wind power

Wind energy developers in Scotland are increasingly seeking to bring local communities on-side by offering shares in wind farm projects. The latest to explore community ownership is GreenPower, which has launched its GreenFutures initiative -- the first by a Scottish company. It invited local people to register their interest in owning one of the 14 turbines in its proposed Little Law wind farm in the Ochil Hills, Perthshire. GreenPower, based in Alloa, plans to operate and maintain the turbine on behalf of the community.

But GreenPower's ambitions suffered a major setback when a week after the GreenFutures launch Perthshire councillors refused planning consent for Little Law. The company is deciding whether to appeal the decision. Meantime, it still plans to roll out the initiative to its other wind farm projects. GreenPower's Robert Forrest says GreenFutures allows individuals to be part of the company's wind farms. "By owning a turbine the local population could not only reap the benefits from an ethical investment, they could also play an important part in helping to reduce carbon emissions and save the environment," he says. "It is a real chance for people to think globally by acting locally."

GreenPower's Craig Potter adds that the company already had a commitment to work with local communities. "We run trade seminars and provide community funds, but we have always been keen to have community investment in our projects," he says.

Share plan

GreenPower is not the only company seeking to involved local people in local wind power development. Co-operative-owned group Energy4All held its first public meeting at Boyndie near Banff, Perthshire, to unveil proposals for local shares in a nearby seven-turbine wind farm. The new Boyndie co-operative will be set up under an agreement with wind farm developers Falck Renewables and RDC Scotland, which allows Energy4All to offer community ownership at all their future developments.

Under Energy4All's plans, the new co-operative will receive a share in the revenue from the 14 MW wind farm at Boyndie Airfield. Profits from the sale of green electricity will be distributed to members through an annual dividend. Local people will be able to invest from £250 to £20,000, but under co-operative rules, each member has an equal say in how the co-op is run regardless of the size of their investment.

"Our aim is to set up a co-operative that local people can join and run themselves," says Angela Duignan of Energy4All. The company was set up to promote community ownership of wind projects and is owned by the UK's first wind farm co-operative, Baywind Energy, which developed a wind station in Cumbria in north-west England. Energy4All is working with several developers to bring an element of local ownership in up to 11 projects in England and Scotland. As more co-operatives are established, they will also have part ownership of Energy4All.

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