Community Wind Project
BLACK ISLE COMMUNITY ENERGY
“Could the Black Isle ever be carbon neutral?” That was the question that kicked off Transition Black Isle’s involvement in Black Isle Community Energy – or BICE for short. (We still don’t know the answer, but we’re pretty sure one of the things we’ll need is a lot more renewable electricity.)
BICE is a group of local volunteers, convened by TBI and the Black Isle Partnership, working on the idea of a small community-owned wind power project on the Black Isle, capable of generating up to 40% of the electricity used in the area. Just as significantly, because the proposal is for a community-owned scheme, all profits will be channelled into community projects.
Before the project can progress with wind and wildlife studies and develop a business plan and planning application, BICE needs to see whether or not there is wide community support for the project. This is being done by a ballot of the Black Isle.
Empowering the Black Isle
This project is still at a very early stage – we have a high-level feasibility study which shows no insuperable barriers to the project, but much more work is needed before we can be sure how much the turbines could contribute to the community. However, given the scale of the project we think a reasonable expectation is that it should generate several hundred thousand pounds a year. In comparison, the same size of commercial development would only contribute about £35,000 a year to the community.
If a new charity will be set up to distribute the money, but we’re collecting ideas already – here are a few:
- Help with community-based residential care schemes – so more people can be looked after in their communities, close to friends and family;
- Helping insulate Black Isle properties – taking people out of fuel poverty and reducing their carbon footprint even more;
- Funding to revitalise the Black Isle Pool project – for a new, energy-efficient, swimming pool in Fortrose;
- Contributing to a park-and-ride scheme based at Tore to reduce congestion on the Kessock Bridge and in Inverness;
- Providing training bursaries to help young folk find jobs in the area.
The experience of other communities which have gone down this route already is that having funding gives people the confidence to put their dreams for better facilities into action. Erik Trelfer, one of the directors of Soirbheas, the community trust for Glen Urquhart and Strathglass, told us “the best thing to come from our wind-energy scheme has been the way having an income has inspired local folk to come up with ideas to improve their community. Suddenly it’s a more vibrant, go-ahead place!”
For more information, see the Black Isle Community Energy website
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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