We are presently awaiting determination over our planning application for the siting to two community wind turbines on Stronafian Forest. The decision should be imminent, but in the meantime we have recently been asked about the financial forecasts that we are working with.
Firstly we should say that we are legally bound by confidentiality agreements which protect the intellectual property rights of our wind turbine developer.
The legal conditions on our working financial forecasts begin with this statement:
By receiving this document, CGDT (“the recipient”) agrees to keep permanently confidential the information contained herein or made available in connection with any further enquiries (the “Information Provided”). The Information Provided may be made available only to a the recipient’s employees and professional advisors directly involved in the appraisal of such information. The Information Provided shall not, either in whole or in part, be copied, reproduced, distributed or otherwise made available to any other party in any circumstances … nor may it be used for any other purpose than that for which it is intended.
Unfortunately, this is not ideal, and it means we can only talk in very general terms about the figures we have been given. Firstly, there are two forms of income which will accrue to the community. There will be community benefit payments (which all windfarm developers pay) which will be at a rate of over £5000 per MW/h. This will be set aside in a trust for the community to use, rather as it has been for the Cruach Mhor Windfarm Trust. There will also be profits earned by the installation as profit by an armslength subsidiary of CGDT’s. These profits will be paid to the Development Trust tax free, given its charitable status, and will amount to at least £50,000 per annum on average over the lifetime of the installation, and probably much more. Of course our forecasts also include variables such as interest rates and the types of loans we will be able to obtain, but by using the arms’length company we limit the liability to CGDT and therefore the community as well. Indeed, the profits I mention take into account all the costs incurred in installation, operation and dismantlement.
Once we have returned the forest to its pristine prewind turbine state we anticipate the community will have had the opportunity to benefit from well over £2M. CGDT has obtained over £2.5M funding for projects thus far from an initial seed investment of c. £50K by the Cruach Mhor Windfarm Trust, the potential therefore for Colintraive and Glendaruel to draw down much greater funding becomes possible with the advent of these turbines and the income they will provide.
When and if we receive consent, we will then be in a position to finalise the figures further, and we hope to give a more detailed answer to everyone. Of course, the delays on the planning decision erode this, particularly after the recent changes made by the Westminster Government on renewables.
Indeed, it is the view of the Wind Turbine working group, that if the project wasn’t able to return an income of £50,000 per annum on average, then it would recommend to the board of the trust that the project shouldn’t go forward, even with consent given.
We thoroughly understand that some members of the community have objections to the appearance of the turbines themselves. However, we would argue, that (a) the benefit accruing to the community is worth it (b) the turbines will be there only for the lifetime of the project, and then taken down. The success on Gigha shows that turbines can work well for a community, providing a basis for real and lasting change.
To show the impact, from perhaps the most critical view, we have taken a screengrab of the wireframe and photomontage showing the visual impact of the turbines. The first image is a closeup, and the second gives the full panorama.
Please note the wireframes do not show the masking effect of vegetation, including the commercial forestry plantation, however the photomontage does. In this case, for this view, only the closest of the turbines is visible over the tops of the trees:
The full panorama is below:
The full set of montages are available at the Development Trust office.