Neilston Community Wind Farm
The Neilston Development Trust (NDT) started negotiations with potential partners to develop a wind farm as early as 2006. Three years later, the Neilston Town Team published the “Neilston Renaissance: Town Charter”, a visionary document outlining over 40 projects to improve the future of the town including “wind turbines to generate clean electricity [and] potentially bringing income for the community”.
Legal structure & set-up
Neilston Community Wind Farm is a Limited Liability Partnership owned by Neilston Development Trust (via its trading subsidiary NDT Trading) and Carbon Free Neilston Ltd., a subsidiary of commercial wind farm developer Carbon Free Developments Limited.
The hills around Neilston provide some of the best wind resources in Scotland. NDT chair Alan Walker says: “We fully support the move to renewable energy but at the same time we felt that the community should benefit in monetary terms. It was almost certain that wind farms would be built near the village and the only way to be involved was through a partnership with a developer.”
Neilston Development Trust owns 28% of the 10MW development, which opened for business in May 2013 and operates four commercial turbines. Neilston Development Trust is a Limited Company by Guarantee with a charitable status that will distribute the income generated through the Wind Farm to help turn the vision outlined in the Town Charter into a reality and make Neilston “a better place”.
NDT benefitted greatly from the expertise of the developer and the fact that CFD carried the financial risks at the early stages of the project. Once the project was sure to go ahead, NDT were allowed but not obliged to invest up to 49.9% of the wind farm and managed to raise funds to secure a 28% ownership stake by borrowing from social lenders and the Scottish Government.
Over the lifespan of the wind farm, NDT will earn an estimated £10 million to fund local community projects. This is significantly greater than so called ‘community benefit payments’ commonly handed out by large developers of wind farms in Scotland.
- Finding a commercial partner
- Raising the investment finance
- Community engagement
- Provides an excellent source of community income for minimal effort
- Empowers the community
- Gives community a sense of ownership and involvement in fighting climate change
Size of Community
Local population of 5,500 represented through NDT
Type of Energy Project
Stage of Development
We fully support the move to renewable energy but at the same time we felt that the community should benefit in monetary terms. It was almost certain that wind farms would be built near the village and the only way to be involved was through a partnership with a developer.
Alan Walker - NDT Chair
Dec 2006 - April 2009
Initial meetings with Frost Free (Fintry), Scottish Power, Gamesa and nPower
Initial meeting with Carbon Free Developments
Outline proposal for NCW presented to meeting of Neilston Town Team (see Charter process). Approval to progress the project
Local publicity distributed door-to- door in Neilston and neighbouring village of Uplawmoor
Weekend exhibition and consultation held in Neilston (ongoing communication via NDT newsletter delivered to all Neilston households, and local press)
Planning application lodged
Planning consent received
Tenders, planning conditions and pre-site development, financial arrangements
Summer/ Autumn 2012