Remote Highland community gets £2m 'people's windfall' from turbine project

A remote Highland community reaps the windfall of community turbine project

A HIGHLAND COMMUNITY, in Wester Ross, has started to see the first returns of an investment in their community windfarm turbine project to the tune of almost £2m.

The Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) expects over £2m of community funds over the 20-year life of the wind turbine, which is the first large scale community-owned turbine in the mainland Highlands.

Situated near Achiltibuie the windfarm, which has started supplying power to the National Grid, will enable locals to use its income to improve local services and infrastructure.

“It’s simply a means to an end – its job is to generate funds for us to plough into our community to secure a bright future for present generations and those yet to come.” Iain Muir

Iain Muir, chairman of the CCDC, said: “Like the road to Achiltibuie, the journey has been long, narrow and winding, and not without its pot-holes, precipitous roadside drops and things jumping out in front of us, but finally we’ve reached our goal and it’s fantastic to see the blades turning.

“It’s taken so many years of dedicated voluntary effort by members of the community as well as our staff.

“However, splendid though the turbine is, it’s simply a means to an end – its job is to generate funds for us to plough into our community to secure a bright future for present generations and those yet to come.”

“The income generated from the turbine will help accelerate progress with some of the other community projects in development.” Lindsay Simpson

The money from the turbine will also go to helping the community set up new businesses, provide bursaries for services and fund training in different skills.

Highland and Islands enterprise (HIE) who supported the community project financially have been keen to promote the case of Coigach as an example of future local sustainability and democratic power. 

It played a key role in helping to fund the running costs of feasibility studies and technical consultations for the windfarm which often are a heavy cost burden for local groups looking to set up renewable projects and trusts.

Lindsay Simpson, manager of development with HIE, said: “This is great news for Coigach residents. The income generated from the turbine will help accelerate progress with some of the other community projects in development, including support for young people.

“In time these will strengthen community resilience and the area’s attractiveness as a place to visit, live, work and study. We look forward to continuing to work with CCDC and supporting their development projects.”

Picture courtesy of CDC

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