Members of the public are being invited to a social event in North Uist on Monday night (May 27), to hear about progress with the UistWind project, currently under construction (pictured), and give their views on how the community should spend the future profits from the wind farm.
The UistWind Construction BBQ is being held at Claddach Kirkibost, from 7pm to 9.30pm and is being hosted by North Uist Development Company, who are delivering the UistWind project for the benefit of the community.
NUDC said the barbecue is a chance for everyone to “eat, drink and be merry” to celebrate the community’s success at raising the money they needed to enable the wind farm project to go ahead, as well as to gauge views on the best use of the eventual profits.
It is also being held as an opportunity to hear from turbine manufacturers Enercon, who will be coming on site on June 3 to prepare to lift the turbines into place.
Enercon’s project manager, Richard Biggs, will be speaking and answering questions.
Two 900kW turbines are to go up at Criongrabhal, near Clachan-na-Luib, with the wind farm due to be operational by October this year. UistWind, a North Uist Development Company (Trading) project, aims to generate more than £105,000 a year – or £2.33million over the project’s lifetime of 22 years – with the profits going straight back to the community via NUDC’s charitable activities.
Dr Ameena Camps, Project Delivery Manager with North Uist Development Company, said everyone was welcome to come along, adding: “Come along, meet the experts, ask your questions about what’s going to happen, and enjoy a nice evening with a barbecue.”
The event is free of charge and will serve as both an information session and an initial engagement exercise, with further consultation exercises to be held in the months to come.
The event has been made possible by funding from the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). Doors will be open from 6pm for drop-in sessions to chat about the project, the main event is at 7pm and Enercon will be speaking at 7.15pm, followed by the barbecue and informal chat.
Describing progress on the project so far, Ameena said the foundations had been excavated and the steel work was also in place. Road upgrades are mostly finished and the cement pour for the first turbine has been done, with the second turbine pour scheduled for tomorrow (Friday).
Catherine Macleod, Director of NUDC-T, said: “It’s a critical period – it’s quite an anxious time – but this is all for the community benefit fund. The benefit fund won’t be available straight away, but it is important to find out now what the community would like to see their money spent on, ready for when Uist Wind does start creating a profit for the community.
“We will be out and about over the summer to collect ideas, including the North Uist Highland Games and the North Uist Agricultural Show.”
UistWind is a £3.5million project being financed mainly by Triodos Bank UK, the ethical bank with specialist experience in financing community renewable energy projects, with a secondary loan from the Energy Investment Fund (‘EIF’), a Scottish Government Fund managed and delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank.
Kirsty Macleod of the Kirkibost Craft Hub said: “It’s great to have a more relaxed environment to discuss such an important addition to the community and the benefits it will have.”
More than 240 investors contributed to the community fundraiser – the vast majority by buying shares – and raised more than £450,000.
The project will be capitalising on one of the last Feed-In Tariffs and is also thought to be the last Outer Hebrides renewables project that will be able to take up space on the current cable to the mainland, before it is full to capacity and an interconnector is needed.