A group of Scottish villagers are harnessing the power of the wind to turn their community green.
When a 14-turbine windfarm was built near Fintry, in 2006, the locals didn’t complain, but decided to buy an extra turbine just for them. Now they are using the cash it generates investing in local green projects. Gordon Cowtan represents the villagers and manages the income of the turbine. He said: “This is the 15th turbine, this one here, it is the one that was put up for the village of Fintry, it’s a 2.5 MW turbine, like all the rest of ones are in the development, and it produces somewhere around 7.000 MW/h each year. That elecricity is sold into the national grid. “In the first year we earned for the village somewhere around 140 thousand pounds, and that’s the net value as well of pay back the loan and pay the shared maintenace.” Fintry’s turbine became fully operational in December 2007. When the 2.8 million euros loan is paid off, in 14 years, the annual income for the village will be around 456.000 euros per year. This money will be invested in the aim of making Fintry a carbon neutral village. Fintry is not on the gas mains so residents have to rely on oil or electric storage heaters. This is why the first big project paid by the turbine has been an insulation project for the whole village, to cut the amount of energy used. Cowtan added: “If their house type was appropriate, then the householder got free cavity wall insulation and roofing insulation as well. We put insulation in about 50% of the houses in the village and that was completely free to the householders”. Jim Milne is among residents who benefited from the insulation project and among the 150 members of the Fintry Development Trust that bought the turbine. The Trust says households that received insulation would save up to 700 euros per year. Milne said: “All the village got the opportunity to get a benefit from it. And as much the organisers decided they could not distribute free electricity to everybody. Tax lawyers apparently put a stop to that, so instead of trying to give you free elecriticy, what they are trying to do is cut down the amount of electricity we need to heat our houses”. He added: “It’s a deal which is not a one off, it continues on into the future, which means it’s not just myself here for the moment but those coming in afterwards, will get some benefits, it’s a continuing benefit to the community”. Fintry’s eco-dwellers are looking at other green projects to be financed by the community’s own turbine. It will help introduce sustainable energy forms of heating and possibly, in the future, eco-friendly transportation for the village.