The MP and MSP for the Western Isles have backed a fundraising campaign to build a community-owned wind farm in North Uist, which aims to generate more than £105,000 a year for investment in good causes. UistWind, being driven by North Uist Development Company (Trading), is in the final stages of raising the money the community needs to put towards its development of two 900kW turbines at Criongrabhal, near Clachan-na-Luib.
It needs to raise at least £350,000 by the end of the year and last night launched a Crowdfunder ap-peal, in addition to an existing Community Share Offer, in a bid to close the gap. With the current total raised standing at £332,550, Angus Brendan MacNeil and Alasdair Allan are urging anyone interested in financially supporting the project – wherever they may live – to do so without delay.
Angus Brendan MacNeil, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, said: “North Uist Development Company have worked tirelessly to bring this vital community wind project to this stage. “They have faced many hurdles along the way but have never given up and remained committed to bringing this project to fruition. “I have supported NUDC for several years in attempting to overcome difficulties with the Ministry of Defence in relation to the wind project. The project has the potential to raise a significant and sustainable amount of money for future investment in projects and services for North Uist.
“To ensure this vital project goes ahead, there needs to be a final push for funding to meet the target of the Community Share Offer. I would urge people across the islands to support the project and help to shape a sustainable and positive future for North Uist and allow them to benefit from a community wind project as has been the case in other parts of the Hebrides.”
Alasdair Allan, Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP, said it was “really encouraging” to see the progress North Uist Development Company had made so far. “These wind turbine plans are a positive, locally-driven initiative which have the potential to bring significant investment and revenue into the local economy.
“I hope as many people as possible will help to get them over the final hurdle and contribute to their crowdfunding efforts.” The UistWind project aims to create £2.33million for the community over the project’s projected lifespan of 22 years, with the profits going straight back to the community via North Uist Develop-ment Company’s charitable activities.
The 1.8MW project will cost around £3.5million and most of the finance is expected to be covered by a commercial loan of £2.5million from Triodos Bank – a specialist in community renewable en-ergy finance – with a secondary loan of £650,000 from the Energy Investment Fund. Although it could be possible to restructure the financial package if the community is unable to raise its target of £350,000, that would mean bigger bank loans and a much smaller return to the community – virtually wiping out any profit for 10 years.
UistWind has full planning permission and a licence to sell its electricity to the National Grid. There is also space reserved on the current cable for its power to be exported to the mainland.
Construction is due to begin on the project at the end of January 2019 and be completed by the end of July 2019. Contracts are currently being negotiated and fundraising has been allowed to continue to the year end because the bank agreed to a ‘compressed construction programme’. The share offer and crowdfunding campaign will both remain open until financial close on 31 De-cember 2018. The Crowdfunder appeal is at https://crowdfunder.co.uk/uistwind and will accept donations of any sum towards the campaign. It also offers ‘rewards’ as incentives for certain sizes of donation.
These begin at £250 and £500 for cards and artworks and go up to business sponsorship levels of £10,000, £15,000, £25,000 and £50,000 – for which a business can name a turbine and cut the rib-bon at the opening event. Visit the page for more details.
Community shares can be purchased starting from £250 and go up in £50 increments.
Benefits to investors include a target rate of 4 per cent return on investment and a right to partici-pate in the decision-making of North Uist Development Company (Trading).
To invest in UistWind, and for more detail on investor benefits, visit: www.uistwind.com.