Co-op finances largest community wind farm

The Co-operative Bank has provided £8m of funding for what it says is the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK.

Residents in Scotland’s Western Isles have decided to erect three Enercon 2.3MW wind turbines on South Uist after securing a £1m grant from Social Investment Scotland and £2.4m from the European Regional Development Fund in conjunction with finance from The Co-operative Bank.

Locals have formed The Stòras Uibhist Trust which will distribute the estimated £20m revenue the turbines will generate over the next 20 years to tackle the island’s social and economic problems.

Angus MacMillan, chairman of Stòras Uibhist, said: “This project has always been about generating income to re-invest into the local community for the benefit of the people who live on the islands of Eriskay, Benbecula and South Uist.

“We are now looking to the future when Storas Uibhist, in partnership with other local organisations, can make best use of this revenue and the people of this Estate can take their future into their own hands and transform these islands into a vibrant and growing place to live and work.

“This could only have happened with community ownership and demonstrates that when communities can manage their own assets they are able to transform their futures.”

Chris Matthews, renewable energy manager at The Co-operative Bank, added: “This scheme pushes the boundaries of community renewable energy.

“The quality of life for many residents on the Islands will be improved as a result, helping to create local jobs and diversify its economy at a time when like many communities it is facing significant economic and social pressures.”