£1m bid to create community-owned clean energy on Mull

£1m bid to create community-owned clean energy on Mull
The Guardian

A £1M bid to generate 40 years of community-owned clean energy launches on the Isle of Mull.
A community share offer issued with support from the Co-operative Enterprise Hub has set out to raise the money needed to generate more than 1,100MWh of renewable energy each year on the Allt Achadh na Moine watercourse on the east coast of Mull.

Initiated by members of Sustainable Mull and Iona and, Mull and Iona Community Trust, the hydro-electric scheme will be built and operated by a newly formed Community Benefit Society, Green Energy Mull, with profits benefitting local island charitable, environmental and education projects.

It is hoped – after almost 18 months of research, planning and development with Forestry Commission Scotland, Community Energy Scotland, Scottish & Southern Electricity, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Argyll and Bute Council and Co-operative Development Scotland – that construction will start next Spring with the scheme operational by the end of 2014.

Richard Thorne, a founding member of Green Energy Mull, said: "This is an exciting opportunity for people to play a part in the creation of a community-owned enterprise generating clean, green, renewable energy – the enthusiasm and support that we have seen so far has been incredible.

"We are trying to encourage the widest possible participation and raise over a third of the money needed through community ownership. The more money that is raised by community investors the less money we need to borrow and, this will then enable us to plough more back into local community, environment, education and charitable projects.

"The scheme will help to address the challenges of energy security and climate change, contribute to Scottish Government renewable targets and, deliver local economic, environmental and community benefits."

Michael Fairclough, head of Community and Co-operative Investment at the Co-operative – which assisted the community through its Co-operative Enterprise Hub, said: "There is significant potential for communities to control, generate and benefit from their own renewable energy. By working together people can be powerful catalysts for change capable of overcoming many of the challenges facing society, the environment and economy. Co-operation can be key to bringing about the changes that people want to see in their communities."

Green Energy Mull expect to pay a return of between 4 – 5% to investors after the second full year of operation. Investors may also be eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).

Investors in the newly formed co-operative have equal voting powers irrespective of the size of their investment. Each share costs £50 with a minimum investment of £250 required to become a voting member. The maximum investment is £20,000.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the share offer document visit their website or telephone Richard Thorne on 01680 812906.

There has been a near 25% increase in the number of UK co-operative enterprises since 2009. Other communities interested in co-operative solutions to the running of business and services can contact The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, a free service operating UK-wide to support the creation and growth of member-owned enterprises, by emailing them.