2009 – 2010

 

November 8th, 2010

Minutes 28th August 2010

The Planning application is still going through. It would be quite useful if community folk could send e-mails in support of the planning application to the Council on the basis of its minimal impact on the area. The planning reference is 10/02132/FUL

Funding – our bank balance is around £300 but we will need to draw down the next tranche of finance soon. To complete the paperwork CES need copies of all receipts for legal expenditure, community engagement and miscellaneous/contingency expenditure items

Good news from the Grant Funding front – the Big Lottery have opened another fund for Investing in the Community. There will be grants for Stage 1 (Development Costs) and Stage 2 (Capital Costs).

Anne’s work-load as chair is becoming too onerous and there is a need now to spread the load particularly as we move in to a more active phase later on. Anne suggested 4 Divisions of Activity:

Funding – Stuart Brownlee has offered to help with this. Anne is anxious to have help in particular with grant fund tracking. Pauline may also be able to help with a spreadsheet. Anne will continue to work on the grant applications.

Membership – We need to have a minimum of 100 members of Soirbheas and 5% of community would be a good target. Erik to take on boosting of membership

Community Engagement/Awareness – it is hoped Mary will be prepared to assist in this

Finance – there is going to be a growing need to control and monitor the general financial aspects – cash flow forecasting and project tracking etc. It is hoped Andrew will have a good grasp of this aspect and will be happy to take this on – perhaps Ian Wilson?

1) Mike has still not provided formal invoice for the ‘buy in’ costs to date – indicated at £16,514 for all our share of costs up to Planning. Also need the best estimates for the next phases – construction/development, wayleave, grid connection, accounting charges and legal charges. This is urgent now if we are to have the funding in place to meet it.

2) Time Line for the project is currently

a) Planning Consent Outcome – by end of 2010

b) Grid Offer – by 1/4/2011

c) Bank Loan in place and Turbine Order – June 2011

d) Road Construction work complete – 2012

The Directors have agreed that AJB Scholes are to be appointed as the company’s accountants. They will compile the year end accounts, provide accounting advice, OSCR final accounts and will also provide Company Secretary services. They have indicated £750 + VAT for preparation of year end accounts and estimate the costs for forecasting work later on will be around £600-£700.

 

July 16th, 2010

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 25th June 2010

The Annual General Meeting was attended by 26 members. Apologies were noted from Pat Veitch. Andrew Castell opened the meeting by thanking everyone for turning out. He then outlined the Agenda for the meeting.

Anne MacDonald delivered the Board’s Report on the project so far. She reminded that the original brief of the Steering Group was to assess if a community owned turbine would be viable. On the basis of the current figures, a community owned turbine as part of the 5 turbine development would be possible and of benefit to the community.

A Company had been set up with Charitable Status to handle distribution to the community of the Revenue generated, and a second company Soibrheas Trading Ltd had been set up for the business side of things. An Option to Lease the site had been signed and a Collaboration Agreement signed with Corrimony Energy Ltd, setting out the contractual aspects.

Following the recent very positive community vote in favour of the project going forward, Anne outlined what the next tasks would be. Most important would be a need to work very closely with Corrimony Energy Ltd in order to determine and finalise costs for the project and the time-scales of each phase so that grants and finance could be put in place in time for each stage.

Andrew then covered the accounts which had been drawn up for the period to the end of May 2010 outlining the finance that had been secured so far and expenditure to date. He advised that the securing of further grant funding would be a continuing process.

In accordance with the Articles of Association, it was required that all the directors must stand down. All the directors had indicated their willingness to stand for re-election if the membership wished it, and anyone else interested in standing as a director were asked to make themselves known. Each of the directors was then proposed and seconded for re-election and the votes cast were nearly unanimous for each. No additional members put themselves forward for consideration.

The Treasurer, Pauline Trelfer also offered herself for re-election, was proposed, seconded and unanimously re-elected.

Anne advised that at present we had managed with just the 4 directors for Soirbheas Ltd and just herself and Erik Trelfer as directors of Soirbheas Trading Ltd. However, we would need more directors to share the work going forward and members were asked to give this consideration and to encourage other members perhaps. In particular we are seeking people with accounting/financial expertise and legal expertise. We also need to ensure we have a good cross section of the community serving. The membership were asked to provide their thoughts and suggestions as to what the Revenue generated might be used for, what developments they would like to see and what it should all look like as we go forward.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

The opportunity was provided for members to ask the Board questions and some of these are recorded below:

Q What is the Timescale for the project
A Obtaining Planning Consent may take 6 or so months. Difficult to be definite on other aspects of the project as the situation can constantly change. Last year for example turbine manufacturers were quoting 18 month delivery – this is now much shorter. Construction works can be held up by bad weather, we have to avoid certain times of the year due to the black grouse breeding times – but it is expected the construction phase will be done over a period of 2 years. It is likely to be 2-3 years yet before it is all up and running.

Q What about the Grid Connection?
A We had a grid offer but Mike Girvan had to let it go as it came with a lot of uncertainty about the over-all connection costs and a requirement that the Grid would be indemnified for the costs they encountered in upgrading the grid. This could be a very substantial sum – but they could not give a figure. It would cost £25,000 or so just for them to investigate what the costs might be! We are hoping that the increasing political pressure will bring about a resolution of grid connection problems as there are a number of projects now being held up nationally. Ultimately the Beauly-Denny line when it is built may solve the problem at least for us. However, it is a major issue for the project and we will not want to get too enmeshed with the project until we know a grid connection is available and the costs involved.

Q How windy is the site?
A Monitoring wind speeds and duration has been done over 18 months or more now and the site looks very promising – Orkney is acknowledged as one of the best locations and our readings have been comparable to some on Orkney

Q What about bird collisions?
A An extensive bird, small mammal and ecological survey has been done by independent experts in that field. The man doing the bird survey has a very high reputation and also acceptance by RSPB. His report indicated relatively few bird flights over the area which is barren moorland mainly and so not a food source for them. Whilst the occasional bird collision may occur, it is a very small probability and well below the levels considered to be acceptable risks.

Anne then outlined the sort of skills that are needed to help bring the project to fruition. Financial skills, legal skills and communication skills are all important. We need more folk to put themselves forward now and offer their help. We have to work out a Business Plan and need everyone’s input to this. What sort of community projects do members want to see the Revenue applied to? We have been given some suggestions – extending the Care Centre has come out quite strongly for example. We need a consensus of what the community wants us to use the funds for – and this forms an important part of our grant application process. Anne thanked her Board colleagues for their help and perseverance in getting the project to this stage and the meeting was closed.

 

July 16th, 2010

Minutes of Public Meeting 5th June 2010

Attendees: Anne MacDonald, Mary Brook, Neil MacInnes , Edward Redmond, Peter MacDonald & Erik Trelfer. Laura Nicolson (Community Energy Scotland), Mike Girvan (Corrimony Energy Ltd), Mr & Mrs E Laughton (Adrishaig Community Council as observers). Apologies: Andrew Castell

The Public Meeting was attended by 30 people. The meeting opened with Mike Girvan providing information on the project including the Environmental, Bird and Mammal Surveys that had been carried out. He provided maps of the site via Lap-top computer projection showing locations of the turbines and pictures taken from various points around the area as requested by the Council, with the wind-turbines superimposed on them to show what would be seen of them at those points. In all, because this is not a sky-line development, the visual impact on the landscape will be surprisingly small. Questions were then invited and answers provided.

Anne MacDonald advised that the original brief of the Steering Group was to assess if a community owned turbine would be viable. On the basis of the present figures, the 5 turbine project appears to be viable in terms of the costs and likely Revenue to be generated. On this basis a single community owned turbine as part of that development would also be viable.

The Steering Group had established that the finance for the community turbine is available through a mix of grant and bank loan funding. It would not be the intention to ask all members of the community to directly contribute money. In view of the very large sum involved, small fund raising events would not make much of a difference either, though if anyone wanted to organise these it would be encouraged. Similarly if anyone wanted to make donations we would be happy to accept them. There could also be opportunities for local businesses to be sponsors of the project. The bulk of the finance would come from grants (20-30%) and the balance by bank loan. The Co-op Bank has been very supportive of the project and indicated provisionally they would back it (always subject to their assessment of viability based on the figures available when formal application is made to them).

A Company has been set up with Charitable Status to handle distribution to the community of the Revenue generated, and a trading company has been set up for the business side of things. An Option to Lease the site has been signed and a Collaboration Agreement with Corrimony Energy Ltd setting out the contractual aspects.

The next step is to obtain a strong mandate from the Community that they want us to proceed with this project. The stronger the response the more leverage we will have when it comes to obtaining grant funding (as funders will not be generous to a project that the community is not solidly behind). A postal ballot is taking place and Ballot papers have been sent out to all addresses on the Edited Electoral Roll. Unfortunately anyone who ticked the box on their Electoral Return Form indicating they did not want their address made available for mailing lists will not receive a voting form. They should contact us though so that a voting slip can be made available to them. The deadline for voting is 12th June.

Assuming the vote is a strong positive response, we will then need the community to take up Membership with Soirbheas (individuals and community groups can be members). At present we have only a small Board of Directors comprising just 4 people so we will also be seeking nominations from the Membership for more Directors to be appointed. The first Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday 25th June.

There appeared to be no dissenters and the general mood seemed to be that a community owned turbine would be of great benefit to the community.

 

July 3rd, 2010

Planning Application Lodged

The planning application has been lodged for the Corrimony Wind Farm including the community wind turbine. It is hoped the outcome of the application will be successful, especially as there was such overwhelming support for the project.
It is anticipated that it will be several months before the outcome is known.

 

July 1st, 2010

Results of Public Vote

37% turn out rate of which 78% in favour
Total votes cast over 600. (37% turnout)
78% in favour
21.5% against
0.5% spoilt
The result gives a 4:1 in favour of the project going ahead.

 

May 18th, 2010

Soirbheas Public Meeting – Saturday June 5th – 7.00pm – Balnain Hall

Soirbheas are to host another Public Meeting to keep everyone informed about the Glenurquhart & Strathglass Wind Energy Project, particularly in relation to the proposed community-owned wind turbine. Mike Girvan on behalf of the private developer will give an update on how the overall project is progressing while the Directors of Soirbheas will advise on the current situation regarding the community turbine and discuss how things have moved on since the last public meeting.

 

January 31st, 2010

Community Discussions Events- Feb & Mar 2010

Discussion Evenings have been organised for residents of Glen Urquhart and Strathglass to express their views on the project and suggest how income from the wind turbine might be spent.

 

June 2009

Three directors and two members of Soirbheas Ltd visited Gigha on the 11th and 12th June 2009 to learn more about the Gigha Renewable Energy Ltd (GREL), how it developed, community involvement and their plans for the future, meeting with the Board and Development Officer. It was an informative visit, having met up with the original instigator of the project and the person who is now overseeing it all.

The community on Gigha own 3 turbines. The money generated from their turbines is going into major refurbishment of a number of houses owned by the community.

Willie McSporran and Remi Wassermann met with our group on the Thursday evening. Willie provided background information on the buy out of Gigha and what had happened since then. Below is listed a summary of the points that our group learnt from this visit.

Gigha had one very clear purpose – to become sustainable, which the majority of the community bought into easily (75% membership). Soirbheas Ltd will need to work on this because we cover two diverse communities with different priorities, so we need to think of initiatives that can have long term benefits for both communities and have the communities working together more.

Remi provided some practical solutions to increase the level of community awareness of the project. He suggested holding a series of smaller meetings at various locations at different times, when the project model was more developed, as word of mouth diluted and distorted information.

Process for decisions on spend need to be defined early on in the development stage to ensure the community feels that it is fair and transparent and not based on individual agendas.

Not only have Gigha raised money for the island buy out, an ambitious housing refurbishment programme and three turbines, they still have the motivation and enthusiasm to go through the process again and purchase a fourth wind turbine, as well as looking into the possibility of installing an anaerobic digestor on the island!

The next morning Remi took us to the wind farm where we had the opportunity to discuss the practicalities of the project and see close up and inside one of the turbines. The turbines were installed within a six week period with the community providing at times some of the work.