Kirknewton agree community ownership option at revised Fauch Hill windfarm

wind-turbinesKirknewton Community Development Trust has agreed Heads of Terms to provide ongoing funding to support the Kirknewton Community Development Plan.

The majority view of the communities in Kirknewton and West Calder and Harburn have been expressed to planning via the recent community consultation which was undertaken.

As you may be aware Kirknewton Community Development Trust have for the last 11 years worked tirelessly to create an income stream for community activity, to the benefit of the whole community, particularly by investing in renewable energy.  We have faced several disappointments along the way, largely due to external factors, despite majority community support.

We have managed to survive thanks to the Lottery supporting our work and ambition within the community, providing a better start in life for the young in Kirknewton right through to those approaching retirement with our current housing project.  Community spirit and engaging volunteers, supporting local business and creating employment, providing care for those in need and supporting young parents/carers and improving activities for teenage children can all be evidenced.  We have shared our experiences and see an active and vibrant sector across West Lothian which identify need based on community consultation and informed development plans, rather than listening to a small and vocal minority who shout the loudest.  This is very welcoming.

We cannot stress enough, however, that for Kirknewton Community Development Trust this ends on July 2018 when our considerable lottery funding comes to an end. 

The surprising and revised Fauch Hill windfarm is our only hope for continued funding and maintaining the work we do alongside various stakeholders and community groups who do wonderful things around Kirknewton.  With ownership of a ‘virtual turbine’ on the table to support our Development Plan work we intend to make this known as a priority for us over the next couple of months.  For that reason we hope you will encourage and support the Fauch Hill wind farm proposal, particularly at planning stage.

From the research undertaken, supported by Kirknewton Community Council and the Trust, the Kirknewton community (and we are aware the results in West Calder are dissimilar) tell us

“Across the three elements of the consultation (household survey, online survey and surveys completed at the Boralex exhibitions) there were 406 responses from the Kirknewton Community Council area. Of these, 43% indicated support for the proposal (19% strongly support, 24% tend to support) set against 14% that indicated opposition (10% strongly oppose, 4% tend to oppose). The balance was made up of neutral responses (31% neither support nor oppose, 12% don’t know).”

Now that this socio-economic component may be considered as of material value in current planning decisions we wish to emphasise the importance of the income that would be earned on a continuous, long-term basis providing stability in funding that will allow the Kirknewton Community Development trust to plan developments in the certainty of a sustainable income derived from our fractional ownership in this development over the 25 year lifetime of this project.

The majority of the community supports this development as does this Community Trust. We believe that ordinary folk recognise that we must accept responsible for the long-term sustainability of our planet on behalf of future generations. Scottish government has ambitious targets for carbon  reduction , for generation of electricity from renewable resources and for the ownership by community bodies of renewable energy generating capacity . This project meets all those needs.   The offer made to the two host community bodies, and to the wider West Lothian community through West Lothian Development Trust,  by the proposer of this development is generous as loan finance is offered on a non-recourse basis. It is unlike offers made to Scottish communities by any other developer as it underwritten by guarantees that facilitate ownership without financial risk or penalties and consequently we recommend that this project is granted full consent by our local authority acting on behalf and to the benefit of the communities that it is elected to represent.

This application goes to planning soon and your view has been shared via the community consultation that was undertaken to get the majority community view on this windfarm.  Thank you for showing your support.