This year will see the largest wholly community owned windfarm in Scotland being built on South Uist.
Revenue from the windfarm over the next twenty years will see in excess of £20m being pumped into the local economy to regenerate one of the most economically fragile areas of the UK.
It is five years since the residents of Benbecula, Eriskay and South Uist took control of the South Uist Estate, in the largest community buyout in Scotland, and began working towards the economic and social regeneration of the islands.
£1m of grant and loan funding from Social Investment Scotland and £2.4m from the European Regional Development Fund will compliment £8m of finance from Co-op Bank for the construction of this three turbine project. With the release of these funds, work will now commence on construction.
HIE and BIG Lottery have provided grant support to the company during the development of this project and Community Energy Scotland has provided both grant and technical support.
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 3000 people who live on the islands of Eriskay, Benbecula and South Uist. It has been a long and sometimes difficult path that has lead to this point. However, 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 in 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.’
Huw Francis, Chief Executive of Stòras Uibhist added, ‘The realisation of this project will transform these islands and generate significant income for re-investment over the next 20 years. The construction of Scotlands’ largest wholly community owned windfarm has been made possible by the dedication of the staff at Stòras Uibhist and with the support of Iochdar Hill Common Grazing Committee, HIE, BIG Lottery and Community Energy Scotland.’
John Puddephatt of Co-op Bank said, ‘The Co-operative Bank are very pleased to be associated with Scotland’s largest community owned wind farm. The bank will continue to support the development of onshore wind energy projects, particularly where there is community involvement. We look forward to seeing the project becoming operational and benefitting the local community for many years to come’