Berwickshire Housing Association’s community wind farm highly commended at renewable energy awards

(from left) Andrew Watson – BHA Trustee Convener, Richard Atkins – BHA Trustee and chair of Berwickshire Community Renewables and Helen Forsyth – chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association

(from left) Andrew Watson – BHA Trustee Convener, Richard Atkins – BHA Trustee and chair of Berwickshire Community Renewables and Helen Forsyth – chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association

The first wind farm in the UK to have been developed by a housing association as a means of funding new homes for social rental has been highly commended at the British Renewable Energy Awards.

‘The Fisherman Three’ community wind farm near Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders was developed by Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) and its partners Community Energy Scotland (CES).

The British Renewable Energy Awards, held in London on June 15, recognise the achievements of companies and individuals who have contributed significantly in the fields of renewables or clean tech over the past year.

BHA and CES were highly commended in the Community category, which rewards groups or organisations who have been active in developing a renewable energy project in their local area.

The wind farm was launched in March 2017 by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for business, innovation and energy. By supplying energy to the National Grid, it will create revenue for BHA of around £20 million over the next 25 years – enough to allow them to build 500 new homes over that period. Community Energy Scotland will use its £10m share of the revenue to support communities across the country to develop and benefit from renewable energy projects.

(from left) Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Helen Forsyth and Nicholas Gubbins, CEO of Community Energy Scotland

(from left) Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Helen Forsyth and Nicholas Gubbins, CEO of Community Energy Scotland

The 3-turbine scheme has an installed capacity of 7.5MW and will export just under 25 million kilowatt-hours each year – enough energy to power around 5,900 households. As wind power is one of the most established and cost-effective forms of renewable energy generation, Fishermen Three will also save 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year, helping play a small but significant part in the global fight against climate change.

Helen Forsyth, chief executive of Berwickshire Housing Association, said: “Renewable energy is something that is extremely important to us at BHA – it is part of the ethos and attitude of the organisation – so I’m really delighted to have been highly commended at these prestigious awards.

“Innovation is something else that is close to our hearts. The idea for the wind farm came about because we needed to keep building new homes for social rental at a time when funding through traditional channels was in decline. Some outside-the-box thinking eventually led to our wind farm, which will provide us with a steady, predictable source of income to allow us to build much-needed new homes, and has the added bonus of reducing carbon emissions. The windfarm is not our only application of renewable energy; we are also in the process of fitting 700 of our homes with PV solar panels.”

Nicholas Gubbins, chief executive of Community Energy Scotland, added: “It’s great news that this unique project has been recognised at a national level.  Now that the wind farm is up and running, we look forward to many years of sustainable and reliable income to support the core aims of our charities. We hope that The Fisherman Three will inspire other community groups and housing associations to take forward their own renewable energy projects.

“We expect to make our first community benefit payment to local groups in March next year, and it will be very rewarding to see these funds being invested into local projects and initiatives to help improve the lives of residents in the area.”