BORDERS communities are being urged to consider developing their own renewable energy projects and help is now nearby since Community Energy Scotland opened a new office in the region.
The renewable charity’s board visited the region recently to raise the profile of benefits that local communities can enjoy by buying into renewable energy projects, and to emphasise the help and support CES can give them.
Berwickshire Housing Associations has already started to develop its own projects - a three turbine mini windfarm at Hoprigshiels near Cockburnspath that can generate over twice as much electricity used by BHA tenants.
Working in partnership with Community Energy Scotland, BHA’s plans are to sell the excess energy with the money being used to build new affordable houses across the district, plus contribute to local charities.
“It’s very much in line with our experience in other parts of the country where support for community owned renewable energy projects remains high,” said CES chief exectuive Nick Gubbins of the 86 per cent vote in favour of the community wind farm that will generate two and a half time the electricity used by BHA tenants.
“It’s very important to BHA at a time of falling public expenditure to develop sustainable and significant sources of income beyond the rentals paid by our tenants” explained BHA chief executive Helen Forsyth.
During their visit to the region the CES board visited the site where it is hoped the BHA wind turbines will be erected - the planning appplication has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council.
The board also held an information evening at Swinton. Speaking at the event Nicholas Gubbins described how hundreds of communities across Scotland have taken forward their own energy projects – either to heat a community centre or to generate and sell power.
Carola Bell, chair of CES, said: “We are delighted to be visiting Brewickshire and very grateful for BHA’s hospitality.
“We’re looking forward to strong links with the association, and with the Borders in general.
“With help from the LEADER programme, we’ve just appointed Andy Maybury as our Borders development officer. He’s based in Jedburgh and will be focusing on communities who want to develop income-generating renewable energy projects.”
CES work with schools, councils, housing associations, busineses, churches, community associations and other groups advising on renewable projects and here in the Borders it has been mainly the housing associations who have so far called on their expertise.