Are community wind turbines the way forward?

The turbine north of Berwick between the A1 and the East Coast mainline.
The turbine north of Berwick between the A1 and the East Coast mainline.

A north Northumberland man is leading an initiative for communities to set up wind turbines and benefit from the profits.

The first large community wind turbine has gone up in the county and Berwick upon Tweed Community Development Trust, owned by local people, will benefit from a £2.3million windfall over the next 25 years.

Social business Community Renewable Energy (CoRE) designed the installation of the turbine working alongside the Trust. The 50metre 500kW wind turbine, Enercon, is on the north side of Berwick close to the sea, between the A1 and the East Coast mainline. Finance has been organised by Baxendale Invest, Verco and Advance Renewables.

Keith Richardson, chairmam of CoRE and a Lesbury resident, said: “It is very exciting to have set up the first community wind turbine in the North East and one of the very few in the country, but we are now even more excited with our plans to set up many other types of renewable-energy schemes with the potential to generate local benefits while, at the same time, tackling the green-energy agenda.”

Overall, the Berwick turbine will produce electricity for 500 houses and it will save 1,100 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide.

And now CoRE is transforming itself into a new stronger social enterprise, Sustainable Community Energy North East (SCENE). With a stronger team and in partnership with NESEP (North East Social Enterprise Partnership), SCENE is optimistic about the future.

Gunter Woltron is part of the team and is the technical expert focused on wind turbines. Linda Rutter, the second member, has helped nearly 100 community businesses while Keith has also developed community businesses, renewable energy and finance.

“We will provide free support and training for local people and together we will install renewable systems and, at the same time, get more money for communities,” said Linda.

Communities will not have to raise the finance to develop schemes as SCENE will support them to find grants and loans. Communities will retain profits of 80 per cent or more and SCENE will then use their share of the profits to support further renewable schemes, training and other community benefits.

SCENE will have regular public meetings and is setting up training courses. The first community meeting will be at 7pm on Tuesday, July 22, in Newcastle. For more information or details about the public meeting, contact Keith on 07951 935235, by email or book online.