The community owned ‘UistWind’ wind farm on North Uist achieved a significant milestone in September as it generated enough electricity to power every single home on the island of North Uist.
The two Enercon 900kW E44 wind turbines at Criongrabhal near Clachan-na-Luib generated 6,129,000 kWh of electricity between commissioning on 13th September 2019 and 8th September this year – just beating the annual consumption figure by 5 days.
This remarkable feat is just the latest accomplishment for a project that has overcome significant challenges on its way to becoming a success story that is an inspiration to other rural and island community energy projects.
The UistWind project was conceived as far back as 2010 but needed to overcome considerable financing and development hurdles before finally being commissioned in September 2019. A major part of this success was a community share offer, which raised £453,850 from more than 220 investors, allowing the project to proceed and providing a great example of community empowerment.
Now, the island community can benefit from green electricity which offsets enough to power all of its homes. Income from the electricity generated, meanwhile, will be invested in local community projects, creating opportunities to help combat depopulation.
Speaking for Locogen, project managers for the wind farm development, director Stuart Hamilton said: “After all the challenges of developing and constructing this project, it’s fantastic to see the first year of generation data and that important milestone being exceeded. We can now see the positive impact UistWind will have on the community for many years to come.”
Ameena Camps, project delivery manager at North Uist Development Company said: “This is an exciting major achievement for UistWind, for the community of North Uist and for the UK in helping to meet renewable energy targets; highlighting tenacity truly can reap many rewards. Thanks to the lenders: Triodos Bank UK and the Energy Investment Fund, Members of UistWind and everyone who has supported the project over the years of development, construction and now, operation”
This milestone is only the beginning for North Uist. UistWind project aims to create over £2million for the community over a projected 22 years, with profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Development Company’s charitable activities.
Mustapha Hocine, Chair of the North Uist Development Company (Trading) Ltd said “I am delighted that we have reached this key stage. The prospect is bright for UistWind and there is excitement amongst all involved about the benefits that will be able to be delivered to the community in the future”
Funding Success Secures North Uist School Asset Transfer
North Uist Development Company (NUDC) have successfully acquired Scottish Land Fund funding to purchase the former Lochmaddy Primary School from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, and complete the asset transfer for the benefit of the community.
Lochmaddy Primary School was closed in 2016 along with Carinish and Paible, with pupils moved to a new single school site at Sgoil Uibhist a’ Tuath; following a council report in 2013. The School as it stands, at the edge of Lochmaddy village, was constructed in the 1970s, but the original building dates back to the late 19th Century; creating memories for generations of the North Uist community.
Catherine Macleod, Director, North Uist Development Company, said: "This is fantastic news for North Uist. This award will mean we can now move forward with the plans to re-open and sustainably develop the School for the benefit of the community”.
“The Community Hub will provide a multi-purpose focus for community and visitors alike: acting as a welcoming gathering place, an incubator for learning and enterprise and, an inspirational environmental centre to educate and conserve the unique local environment for generations into the future: - creating many new memories for North Uist”
Following years of community consultation, a feasibility study in 2018, and various planning reports including the architects’ concept designs; the Scottish Land Fund success of £19,779 marks a major milestone; being selected as one of six community projects across the Highlands and Islands to be awarded funding from the latest funding round. The development plans for Phase 1 of the project includes the Community Hub and, an Environment Centre which will be a new innovative facility showcasing the unique natural environment of the Uists: nurturing sustainable practices. A living environment with accommodation for visitors, students and temporary workers will be added in later phases of the project. This Community Hub enterprise will bring land and a building back into community use whilst focussing on widespread community needs and benefits.
Taken from the official Scottish Land Fund press release:
Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “Communities across the country are playing a pivotal role in helping create a fairer and greener Scotland as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The latest round of Scottish Land Fund grants – provided to 21 different community groups – will go towards projects that will provide locals with better access to green space, encourage wildlife and support community businesses.
“With this funding being awarded during Climate Week, I look forward to these projects seizing the opportunity to help our green recovery.”
John Watt, Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair said: "Groups from all across Scotland are making a real impact to their communities with a wide range of ambitious projects that deliver tangible benefits to the people who live there, and the Scottish Land Fund is delighted to be able to support them.”
The next steps for the Development Company are to complete the asset transfer, and open the former School so the North Uist community can start using it once again. Rentable space will be made available. The development will be undertaken in phases; and further funding is currently being sought for Phases 1 and 2: including for renewable energy for heating and electricity to support the environmental ethos of the development and Scotland’s green recovery.
More details can be found at www.isleofnorthuist.com and for those interested in renting a space within the School please contact the Company here.
Scottish Land Fund press release can be found at https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/news/press-releases/2020-09-17/community-groups-across-scotland-receive-1-6m-backing-from-the-scottish-land-fund