Borders community harnesses wind profits to secure 500 new homes

Nathanael Williams

Local community gets guarantee of new homes from community windfarm projects

FIVE HUNDRED HOMES are to be built in the Scottish Borders from the proceeds of a windfarm community project called the “Fishermen Three”.

Completed between the end of March and start of April, the three machines are Danish designed Nordex 2.5 megawatt (MW) turbines which are projected to produce profits of £20m for the community through the sale of renewable energy.

This week, the Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) fully committed to directing any profits made to the building of houses in the Borders area near Cockburnspath.

The wind farm, when completed, will supply over 25 years worth of electricity to the National Grid

BHA chief executive Helen Forsyth said: “The idea for the wind farm came when BHA realised that we had to be innovative in order to solve the dilemma of how to keep building new homes for social rental, which are so badly needed in this area, at a time when funding for new housing through traditional channels was in decline.

“The wind farm will provide BHA with a reliable, predictable, low-maintenance source of income that will allow us to build a steady stream of new affordable homes at a time when services are all too often being cut.”

Community Energy Scotland (CES) and BHA have additionally come together as a social enterprise called Berwickshire Community Renewables, whose three new turbines will export a total of 7.5MW of clean electricity to the National grid. That is equivalent to powering 5,900 households.

The project was supported by funding from Triodos Bank and the Scottish Government-backed Renewable Energy Investment Fund. It is also the first ever energy project to be independently put forward and supported by a housing association in the UK, with BHA intending to use its share of the revenue to fund construction of new social rental homes.

The estimate is 20 houses a year over the 25-year project lifetime. This is also the latest in a long line of local scale renewable energy projects that Triodos bank has supported – last year it helped a community in Bristol establish a £10m solar park. 

The wind farm, when completed, will supply over 25 years worth of electricity to the National Grid and the revenues from the sale of its power will be used to finance the other projects of both charities.

Picture courtesy of BHA

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