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Landmark wind farm project to help fund 500 new homes

Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Helen Forsyth of BHA and Nicholas Gubbins of Community Energy Scotland. Image credit: Tara Grey

THE UK’s first wind farm to be developed by a housing association as a means of funding new homes for social rental has been launched in the Scottish Borders.

The project has been tipped to create enough revenue for Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) to build 500 homes over the next 25 years.

The Hoprigshiels community windfarm – which has been named Fishermen Three – is located near Cockburnspath and is a joint venture between BHA and Community Energy Scotland. 

BHA said that by supplying energy to the National Grid, the wind farm will create revenue for the organisation of around £20 million over the next quarter of a century. Community Energy Scotland’s £10 million share of the revenue will enable it to support communities to develop and benefit from renewable energy projects and help build a greener energy system.

The 3-turbine scheme will produce enough energy to power almost 6,000 households. The project has been supported by two main funders, Triodos Bank and the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF).

Helen Forsyth, chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association 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.

“This is not our only application of renewable energy; it is part of a whole approach and attitude at BHA that includes fitting 700 homes with PV solar panels and investing in new heating systems that reduce fuel bills for our tenants.”

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse added, “The newly re-named Fishermen Three wind farm at Hoprigshiels is an exciting project that very ably illustrates our vision of local people benefiting from renewable energy projects installed in their area.  As someone who lived in the local fishing community of Cove for five years, I love the new link to area’s fishing heritage, and I have also been well aware of Berwickshire Housing Association’s ambitions to develop the windfarm for many years, so I congratulate Helen Forsyth and the BHA team, and Community Energy Scotland, for achieving the successful delivery of this important project. 

“The wind farm should generate around £30 million of revenues over the next 25 years,‎ strengthening BHA’s finances and enabling them to build 500 much-needed, additional new homes‎ across Berwickshire to meet strong housing demand in the area. It is because of the investment opportunities that projects such as this can create that Scottish Government continues to invest in‎ community renewable energy projects across the country through REIF, with support from Community Energy Scotland.

“As this project shows, locally-owned renewables in areas such as the Borders have the potential to help drive social, economic and environmental change at a local level through investment in essential community infrastructure. I am delighted that there are more than 500 MW of community and locally owned projects that have already been developed in Scotland, and today sees a further 7.5 MW added to that figure, but we want to do much more and that is why our draft Energy Strategy contains a target of raising this total to 1GW by 2020 and, by 2030, to double that yet again to 2GW.”

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