Insightful Seminar on Achieving Impact with Community Benefit in Argyll & Bute from Foundation Scotland

Foundation Scotland held the third of their regional seminars on achieving impact with funds derived from wind farms in Kilmory Castle today, and as chair of CGDT I was privileged to be asked to make a presentation on how Community Benefit was managed in our community.

The whole event was extremely well facilitated by James Hilder, who provided a logical, fair and humorous context for the various presentations and discussions on the day. I’d had misgivings about spending another day away from work, but in this case I took away several highly valuable insights about the disbursement of Community Benefit and also, of course, on Community Development.

The first came from James himself with regard to maintaining community support for development organisations – he recommended a social audit whereby the organisation commissions an independent study on what affect it has had on the community – how far it has travelled towards achieving its objectives.

Another was the centrality of a community development or action plan in capturing a community’s aspirations over time – that this has to be a living document, and should be revised constantly. Not only that, but that Windfarm Trusts ought to re-examine their funding criterias regularly to ensure they align with the community action plan. Yes, these are obvious points, but sometimes in the mix of projects and endeavour, it is easy to miss out on the essential, foundation tasks.

Further, that there are grant-giving wind farm trusts which make their decisions in open session, rather than behind closed doors. This for me is the ultimate in transparency and I can see how this might usefully counteract accusations of cronyism in small, isolated communities.

And lastly, that the issues current here (like woeful broadband, reducing school rolls, ageing population and decreasing housing stock) are current everywhere, sometimes writ even larger – for example West Kintyre is even longer and more etiolated than ColGlen – and they get less money in total from four wind farms than our community for one.

 

I’ve included my notes from the presentation below – somewhat different from the SPREEE presentation at Holyrood in March given the context, but essentially the same story.

And apparently there’ll be a film later as well as the full presentation online. I’ll link to it when its published.

Continue reading Insightful Seminar on Achieving Impact with Community Benefit in Argyll & Bute from Foundation Scotland

Community Windturbines for Colintraive & Glendaruel take a small step forward with CGDT

Last night at the presentation by CGDT’s consultants Locogen Ltd. in the Colintraive Village Hall,  those assembled moved that we  progress to the next stage of the process which will hopefully result in the construction of three wind turbines for the community on Stronafian Forest.

Over the next couple of weeks Locogen will finalise and submit a planning application for a Meteorological Mast on site in the forest to test the wind speeds available. The mast will provide the community a clear indication as to whether the development will be economically worthwhile. Alongside this the environmental and landscape impact surveys will continue, and the Development Trust board will report progress on the project in full at the AGM on the 20th July which of course the entire commuinty is invited to.

In the meantime, the trust will be publishing the presentation on the CGDT website shortly, along with an opportunity to ask questions both of the board and the consultants. We’re also happy to make presentations to any group in the community who want to know more.

As readers may remember, the development of a wind turbine was a key element of the Stronafian Forest Plan developed by the CGDT consultant Munro Gauld, and will provide for the longterm sustainability of our community. In his research for this project, CGDT director Bill Carlow has calculated that a single turbine will offset all electricity use in ColGlen entirely – that is reduce our carbon footprint to 0 tonnes for all household electricity.

Bill went further, and to offset all our energy use, including transport, business use and construction, we only require three turbines (our ideal solution for this project). In other words, for this community we can, in one fell swoop, cancel out all the carbon we emit as well as provide for an income which will ensure we are sustainable longterm.

#CommunityBenefit: How not to consult with a community on a small renewables project

Last night I witnessed what I can only described as the worst cast of community consultation I have ever seen.

A landowner, who had already submitted their planning application for a small renewables scheme, was invited by the relevant community council to their normal monthly meeting to discuss their [the landowner’s] plans. The Community Council had been unaware that there was an application submitted until after the statutory consultation period had passed. It was therefore concerned to, first assess what the community’s view on the project was and second, to understand why the landowner had not been proactive and consulted with the CC months prior to the application being submitted, as would have been good practice, diligent and good manners.

The landowner sent two employees to the meeting, who proceeded to give the Community Council and all those assembled that the reason that the community hadn’t been consulted in person prior to the submission of the planning application was that there was no requirement for the landowner to do so, and that they, the landowner had fulfilled all their statutory obligations. They said that the planning materials had been posted in the usual places, and if the Community Council hadn’t received the application in time to look at it prior to submission that was (and I am paraphrasing a little) the Council’s fault.

Not only that, on further questioning, the landowner then implied that the community should support the application because of all the advantageous leases and permissions the landowner gave to the community, and that there was no way of separating the issue of the planning application and these other relationships in the community.

The Community Council chair did sterling work to insist that the landowner brought back the developers themselves to make a presentation to the community, to negotiate appropriate community benefit and to start a more consensual approach to the project.

Personally, I was appalled by the lack of foresight, the arrogance and the obvious patrician attitude that the landowner could behave in this way and not be brought to account. Unluckily for the landowner, the CC chair had already received an undertaking from the local planning department that until the consultation had taken place, no determination on the application would be made.

I suspect that the consultation meeting will be very well attended when the time comes.

Landowners like this harm the cause of renewables, and therefore the battle against global warming.

Important community meetings for CGDT: on broadband and renewables

windoposterTwo dates for your diary if you are resident in Colintraive and Glendaruel:

  • There’s a meeting on Local Broadband provision this Thursday, 15th May at 6pm in Colintraive Village Hall
  • There’s a presentation by our wind turbine consultants Locogen Ltd on 28th May at 7pm, in Colintraive Village Hall.

The Development Trust will also be making their monthly report at the Community Council meeting on 19th May at 7.30pm in Colintraive Village Hall.

Community Benefit from Renewables from the Inside

As chair of the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust, an organisation which has benefitted from a small income or community benefit from the Cruach Mhor Windfarm Trust over the last decade, I have been asked to give a couple of presentations on our community’s experience. Of course I can provide a lot of feedback about what CBR has meant to our community, but I am also interested in sign-posting the experiences of other communities with regard to Community Benefit from Renewables so if anyone wishes to contribute, please leave a comment below!