A £8.5 million refinancing deal has secured the future of Scotland’s biggest community-owned wind farm and linked community projects.
The 6.9MW windfarm on South Uist estate generates an average of 22,695 MWh a year, enough to supply 850 tenant crofters with electricity and provide an income for the communities of Eriskay, South Uist and parts of Benbecula.
Community owned company Stòras Uibhist oversees the operation of the windfarm and projects including the management and maintenance of the Bonnie Prince Charlie trail, the Lochboisdale Harbour and the world-renowned Askernish Golf Course. That work will be able to continue after a loan was secured from Lombard and Royal Bank of Scotland .
Purchased in 2006 for £4.6 million, South Uist estate remains the largest community buyout since Scotland’s Land Reform Act in 2003.
Mary Schmoller, chairwoman of Stòras Uibhist, said: “The goal of Stòras Uibhist is to support and protect the natural, social and economic assets of the islands to create a vibrant and sustainable economy, one that attracts people, both to visit, live and work.
“The windfarm not only ensures the islands have a sustainable source of electricity, it also generates income we can reinvest back into the communities of South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula to boost the economy, protect local crofting practices and generate employment opportunities for future generations.
“We’d like to thank Royal Bank of Scotland and Lombard for its support and understanding of our goals.”
Iain McFee, Senior Relationship Manager, Western Isles at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Stòras Uibhist is working to secure the future of these islands and the revenue generated by the windfarm is a key part of this. We’re pleased to be supporting a business that puts the interests of community first.”