An ambitious new wind farm project in South Lanarkshire has received £8.13 million in funding and is set to boost the local community.
Stewart Energy Ltd, which owns the project, is made up of the Stewart family, and Lesmahagow Development Trust (LDT). The project has received £1.63 million in funding from Scottish Enterprise’s
Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) together with a senior loan of £6 million and a £0.5 million VAT facility from Santander Corporate & Commercial. It is anticipated Stewart Energy will
deliver annual seven figure turnover in each of the next 25 years
The three turbine project will have a total capacity of 2.5MW which could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of over 300 homes. Stewart Energy Ltd has received assistance from the
Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) which provides advice and support to rural communities on renewables.
LDT will use the income from the wind farm to not only support their own community, but other communities nearby. Dividend from the project may be used to:
• Purchase of community owned assets such as sport and play park facilities, developing outlet for locally owned crafts, or creating a community child care facility.
• Invest in community revenue generation projects i.e. renovation of unused buildings
• Funding for community groups and local business for training and education purposes.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“The Scottish Government remains ambitious for Scotland’s tremendous green energy potential, and its ability to transform local communities. We continue to lead the way in supporting local and
community ownership of renewable energy, most recently through our Community Energy Empowerment programme, which will make it easier for community groups to follow LDT’s example and take a stake in a
renewable energy scheme.
“Shared ownership goes much further than standard community benefits payments. It puts decisions about energy into the hands of local people, and ensures that they can use the income from that energy
to strengthen and revitalise their communities.”
Andrew Stewart, Director at Stewart Energy Ltd, said:
“I am a passionate believer in renewable energy and the benefits projects like ours can bring to our area if 100% of the ownership is kept local. We had always planned to gift the Lesmahagow
Development Trust with a stake in the wind farm project but with the establishment of REIF, the Trust was able to secure a much larger stake. We look forward to working closely with Santander and the
Scottish Government to ensure the project is completed on time.”
Head of REIF Andrew Smith said:
“This is an excellent example of how with the right, tailored support mechanisms such as REIF is able to develop and deliver - renewable energy projects at a local level have the potential to make a
direct impact on community development and create new economic opportunities.
“REIF was set up to both support Scotland’s progress in renewables, and to help unlock greater investment from the private sector by sharing and investment risk. This wide range of investment in this
project make it an excellent example of this ambition in action.”
Keith Wilson, Relationship Director at Santander Corporate & Commercial, said:
“By combining community ownership with both senior and secondary debt finance, Stewart Energy is an innovatively structured transaction which we are pleased to have been asked to support.
Congratulations to Andrew for the drive and determination he has shown in reaching financial close. We hope Stewart Energy will act as a catalyst for other developers who believe, as we do, in the
importance of local involvement in renewable energy projects”.
The Renewable Energy Investment Fund was launched in October 2012. Its aim is to promote the use of energy from specific renewable sources and drive further investment into key areas of Scotland’s
renewables industry. REIF is delivered by the Scottish Investment Bank – the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise – on behalf of the Scottish Government and its Enterprise Agencies.
Santander Corporate & Commercial’s Renewable Energy team focuses on offering non-recourse project finance loans to mid-market wind, solar and hydro developments. Stewart Energy is the second
windfarm which Santander Corporate & Commercial and REIF have funded in partnership in the last six months. In September 2014 Santander and REIF jointly funded Beinn Ghrideag wind farm on the
Isle of Lewis which, once completed, will be the largest 100% community owned wind farm in the UK.
As a part of this project we’re looking at pulling together a development plan and we need a list of areas/projects where any available money should be spent.
Although we have a list of things we think are a good idea including childcare, social housing projects, employability schemes, sports facilities and community transport, we would like to know
what the people of Lesmahagow feel the village needs.
We’re looking for a wish list, so no matter how crazy you think your idea might be we want to hear it, just tell us what your idea is and we’ll pull them all together for inclusion in the plan.
Even if you don’t have a specific idea but think theres an area of the village or a group in the village being neglected then tell us.
This is just the starting point and hopefully we’ll be able to raise funds to get a more structured approach to gathering community wants in the future but for now we think this is the best place