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Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

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Handing out the cash

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If I crane my head out of the window, generic viagra check bashing my temples on the drainpipe as I do so, look I can just about make out the tips of the Udny Community Wind Turbine. On the occasions when I subject myself to the whims of the spiders nestling in the window frame, those turbine tips are always turning – popping up and dipping back over the horizon with a reassuring regularity. Which suggests that the turbine has yet to be hacked down by an angry Mr Trump and is continuing to generate power, and hence cash, for the local community. But just where does that cash go? As a local resident myself, I was keen to find out what the Udny Development Trust plans to do with the money and how they'll make sure it's distributed in a fair and equitable way throughout the local area.

An advantage of living within sight of the turbine is that it only took one quick email to track down Brian McDougall, chair of the Wind Turbine Trust company. On a sunny, and fortunately breezy day, he set me straight on how to share out some used fivers without ending up in a pub brawl.

The Udny community wind turbine in operation"The turbine starting turning in July 2011 and we're expecting our first payments from the feed-in tariff any day now. Once we start getting some money, our first plan is to fill up our debt reserve fund. We need to put around £78,000 in that as a reserve for a calm, rather than a rainy day. That'll mean we've got enough to guarantee we can make the bank interest payments, which also means the interest rate we're being charged will drop by 0.5%.

After that, we need to look at distributing additional funds within the community. After year one we're expecting to have about £100,000 per year to distribute and we didn't want to come into that cold, so we've had two public consultation meetings to find out how local folk think we should be spending the money. The first of those took place in 2008 and was a Planning for RealTM event where we asked people what projects they thought we should develop. Since then, we've gone back to people with another meeting in March 2011, where we re-iterated the suggestions that came from the first meeting. We're planning to hold one more meeting in May this year, just to check that the community are happy that we're going the right way."

Which sounds fine in theory, but I know from living in a small village that it's easy for these sorts of things to become an inner clique, quickly breeding resentment. How are the Trust planning to ensure that the final selection of what's funded is transparent and avoid any sour grapes?

"We're going to divide the money into four categories and we'll ask people to apply to us within those categories. At the moment, we're planning for the categories to be community action, which will include community events; community organisations; charitable support, which will be up to 10% of the money for a good cause from outwith the parish; environmental action and community health and well-being. 

There'll be a two stage approach, with a project evaluation group looking at the initial bids and making a recommendation and then the Trust Board making the final decision. We're hoping that'll avoid anyone being able to claim we're only funding one individual's pet projects. We're also planning to have a simpler process for grants that are less than £500, so that people aren't doing masses of work for a small sum of money. We've discussed this approach with Community Energy Scotland as well, so hopefully it'll work well, although there's no doubt we'll need to review it over time."

It seems a lot for a voluntary committee to take on, so I was relieved to hear that the Trust are also hoping to appoint a development officer, partly funded by the Big lottery fund. The development officer will be responsible for administering the funding from the turbine and for developing energy audits and other environmental projects in the area.

And, because it's never too early to save for the winds of change, the Trust also want to lay some money aside for the end of the Turbine's life, when it'll need decommissioning.

At the moment, it seems like a well-considered plan, with the Trust directors clearly conscious of the work that they need to do and the potential pitfalls that they could so easily come across. How it will work in practice is hard to say. Wind turbines have plenty of detractors over here in Aberdeenshire, not least the infamous golf course developer down the road. Will that resentment spill over into angry arguments over the distribution of 'community cash'. Or will the arrival of money for all those community groups that struggle to make ends meet turn the turbine into Udny's golden goose?

Only time will tell, but one thing's for sure – the old adage that it's an ill wind that blows no change has never been more appropriate!

You can find out more about Udny's community turbine here.  We've also put together some web links and background information on the distribution of community funding, which you can find here.

 

 

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But just where does that cash go?  As a local resident myself, I was keen to find out what the Udny Development Trust plans to do with the money and how they’ll make sure it’s distributed in a fair and equitable way throughout the local area.

An advantage of living within sight of the turbine is that it only took one quick email to track down Brian McDougall, chair of the Wind Turbine Trust company.  On a sunny, and fortunately breezy day, he set me straight on how to share out some used fivers without ending up in a pub brawl.

“The turbine starting turning in July 2011 and we’re expecting our first payments from the feed-in tariff any day now.  Once we start getting some money, our first plan is to fill up our debt reserve fund.  We need to put around £78,000 in that as a reserve for a calm, rather than a rainy day.  That’ll mean we’ve got enough to guarantee we can make the bank interest payments, which also means the interest rate we’re being charged will drop by 0.5%.

After that, we need to look at distributing additional funds within the community.  After year one we’re expecting to have about £100,000 per year to distribute and we didn’t want to come into that cold, so we’ve had two public consultation meetings to find out how local folk think we should be spending the money.  The first of those took place in 2008 and was a Planning for RealTM event where we asked people what projects they thought we should develop.  Since then, we’ve gone back to people with another meeting in March 2011, where we re-iterated the suggestions that came from the first meeting.  We’re planning to hold one more meeting in May this year, just to check that the community are happy that we’re going the right way.”

Which sounds fine in theory, but I know from living in a small village that it’s easy for these sorts of things to become an inner clique, quickly breeding resentment.  How are the Trust planning to ensure that the final selection of what’s funded is transparent and avoid any sour grapes?

“We’re going to divide the money into four categories and we’ll ask people to apply to us within those categories.  At the moment, we’re planning for the categories to be:

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