Cockburnspath wind turbines to help fund new homes
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has officially launched a wind farm developed by a housing association to fund the building of new homes.
The three-turbine project at Hoprigshiels near Cockburnspath is said to be the first of its kind in the UK.
It is hoped it will generate revenue of £20m over the next 25 years – enough to allow Berwickshire Housing Association to build 500 new homes.
It should also produce enough energy to power about 5,900 households.
The scheme was granted planning permission in 2012, although Scottish Borders Council planning officials had recommended refusal on landscape impact and amenity grounds.
The wind farm – named Fishermen Three – will provide BHA with a "reliable, predictable, low maintenance source of income" which will allow them to build a "steady stream" of new affordable homes.
Joint-developers Community Energy Scotland have said they will use their share of the income from the wind farm to support community groups across the country to develop new renewable energy projects.
The wind farm project has been supported by two main funders, Triodos Bank and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank.
Helen Forsyth, BHA chief executive, said: "The idea for the wind farm came when BHA realised that we had to be innovative in order to solve the dilemma of how to keep building new homes for social rental, which are so badly needed in this area, at a time when funding for new housing through traditional channels was in decline. The wind farm will provide BHA with a reliable, predictable, low maintenance source of income that will allow us to build a steady stream of new affordable homes at a time when services are all too often being cut."
Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The newly re-named Fishermen Three wind farm at Hoprigshiels is an exciting project that very ably illustrates our vision of local people benefiting from renewable energy projects installed in their area. As someone who lived in the local fishing community of Cove for five years, I love the new link to the area’s fishing heritage, and I have also been well aware of BHA’s ambitions to develop the wind farm for many years, so I congratulate Helen Forsyth and the BHA team, and Community Energy Scotland, for achieving the successful delivery of this important project."
Nicholas Gubbins, chief executive of Community Energy Scotland, said: "The UK energy system is changing and we want to make sure that communities are at the forefront of the opportunities that this will create for new, low carbon energy developments. This project will help us to do this, whilst providing an initial community benefit payment of £37,500 per year which will go to the communities closest to the wind farm site, to be spent on whatever they identify as their priorities."
Norrie Cruickshank, relationship manager at Triodos Bank, said: "At Triodos we are always looking to assist with social housing and community renewable energy projects, so we were delighted to provide loan finance for this unique and exciting project."