Am Bratach No. 220
February 2010


Stoer in line for two 5kW wind turbines

The Assynt Crofters Trust and Stoer Hall Committee are planning to build two small-scale wind turbines in Stoer.

And, fortunately, the trust’s crofter-only membershop is unlikely to be an obstacle to gaining grants for their turbine, as it has been sometimes in the past. Bob Cook, Clachtoll, who is managing the projects for both hall and trust, said: “Apparently this is not an impediment to the Community Energy Scotland grant. I’ve checked that with them twice. We’ve been accepted on their tender process and everything like that, so it must be true! They can’t turn round and say, Sorry, you can’t do it!”

Mr Cook said he was hopeful that a top-up grant for the windmills could also be obtained from the LEADER II programme. The turbines would cost between £30,000 and £40,000 each and stand about 18 metres tall. Each would generate between 5kW and 6kW of electricity which would be sold to the National Grid, providing an annual income of somewhere between £2,700 and £5,500 per turbine, depending on the type.

In a mutually beneficial arrangement, the hall committee would provide a building to store the control gear while the trust provided the turbine site. The site is near the hall, but higher up, and hardly visible from the road, said Mr Cook.
As the turbines are small-scale, Mr Cooke does not believe their presence would attract objections at the planning stage.

One of the main considerations would be their sturdiness. “One of the firms that quoted us has a wind turbine on North Ronaldsay, at the lighthouse,” said Mr Cook. “If it stands up there, it’ll stand up anywhere.

“What we would ideally like is a Scottish turbine from a Scottish company, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that. We’ll have a Scottish company, I think, to install it, but I think we may well be looking at a French turbine. But there’s been no decisions made,” he emphasised.

The level of grant available depends on the amount of community involvement. “The more community involvement, or community benefit, there is from the turbine, the higher their grant tends to be. It could be anywhere between 30 and 70/75%. In fact they have grant 95% to one project.”

So where will the trust fit in?

“Well, they can’t argue against it for community benefit because the trust intends to use the proceeds to continue training of the people we employ — so you can’t say that that’s not a community benefit and unlike the [Assynt] Foundation, all our employees are paid for by the trust with no grant aid whatsoever.”

A rumour that a possible fly in the ointment could come in a shape of a change in public policy which would see the financial return under the ““Renewables Obligation Order”, which provides subsidies to providers of “green” energy from eligible renewable sources in the UK, reduced should the parties involved have received government grants to install their generators. We asked the Scottish Government to comment, who referred us the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London. The department emphatically denied any intention to do so.

* The Scottish Rural Development Fund has indicated that the Assynt Crofters Trust is to receive a grant to build an office and visitor centre in Stoer. It will cost more than £100,000.

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