Neilston is one of those communities that can only be described as pioneering. They show us what communities in Scotland can achieve when they work together to take control. Neilston was the first semi-urban community to invoke the right to buy. A substantial building – formerly the Clydesdale Bank – was purchased and transformed into a community hub by the Neilston Development Trust. [Read more about that here.] The Neilston Charter — a long term development plan for the community — gives strategic focus to their work. And on Monday, 13 May, another piece of the jigsaw slots into place. The source of a long term income stream under community control will officially begin to turn.
Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, will officially open the £15.6 million, four-turbine Neilston Community Wind Farm on Monday at 10am.
The people of Neilston bought a 28% share in the wind farm with their partners Carbon Free Developments. They raised £950,000 in cash to buy their stake, which was loaned in part to them by the Scottish Government and other organisations.
The arrangement is the first of its kind in Scotland and will give the village of Neilston around £10million of income over the life-time of the wind farm, supporting the village’s sustainable development and empowering residents to make improvements locally.
The wind farm is the first joint ownership venture between a wind farm developer and a community. It will generate up to 10MW of electricity each year – double what the village of Neilston uses.
Pauline Gallacher, projects coordinator for Neilston Development Trust, said: “We want to make Neilston a better, more sustainable place to live and realised that we, as a community, needed to secure income to make this happen.
“We approached Carbon Free Developments about building our own wind farm and now we have secure funding for 20 years that will go straight into our community. We didn’t rely on grants to fund this – all the capital we raised was in the form of loans and will be repaid.
“I think we’ve shown that communities in Scotland can control their own destiny and work by using the natural resources they have at hand. It has been a long process but it has been worth it – we’ve secured a brighter future for Neilston.”
[We gratefully acknowledge the Scottish Community Alliance as the source of this information.]