In a groundbreaking scheme, Scottish company Berwickshire Community Renewables (BCR) is harnessing wind power to fund social housing. A joint venture between charities Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) and Community Energy Scotland (CES), BCR uses wind turbines to generate electricity for the national grid, with the income from energy sold providing funds for new homes.
Based on a hill above the rural village of Cockburnspath in southeast Scotland, money raised from the three turbines will also create additional funds for similar schemes elsewhere in the country.
Planning began in 2009 at a time when the BHA had only been able to build 150 houses since 2000, with around 50 applicants per property. ‘Things were pretty scary,’ said Helen Forsyth, chief executive of BHA told The Guardian. ‘Our stock was depleting and you became increasingly concerned that you wouldn’t be able to sustain the organisation.
‘The aim is to build at least another 500 homes over the next fifteen years, as well as help with the BHA’s plan to create thriving rural communities.’
‘What is happening here is a ‘first’,’ said Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse told the paper. ‘Relieving housing pressure by harnessing the wind for the benefit of everyone.’
Scotland’s need for more social and affordable housing continues, and the Holyrood government aim to build 50,000 affordable homes by 2020-21 in a £3 billion investment programme.
Words: Ellen White