Scotland’s first community owned, grid-connected wind farm, is on the Inner Hebridean island of Gigha, bought by its islanders in 2002. The Gigha community has named the turbines ‘Creideas, Dochas and Carthanna’, the Gaelic names for ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ and collectively call them ‘The Dancing Ladies’. This landmark project meets all of Gigha’s energy needs. Surplus is exported to the mainland, and is providing an annual net income
to the community of around £80,000.
“ The Dancing Ladies have been essential for the regeneration of the island.”
The wind farm has been operating since 2004 and the community is now managing and investing income.
How Gigha chose to manage and invest the income and why they took this approach.
With what was at the time, some of the worst housing in the country, Gigha’s immediate focus was on on local regeneration. At the time of the buyout 75% of housing was deemed to be ‘below tolerable standard’ with a further 23% deemed ‘in serious disrepair’. Now 26 homes have been refurbished, with a further two under way. The income allows the community to borrow funds to invest into the houses without rent levels becoming unaffordable. This assures quality socially rented housing is available through community ownership.
Social outcomes from this approach
In addition to the obvious health benefits for residents, housing investment has allowed the community to increase population numbers (from 96 to 160 and from six children in the school to 19). Fuel bills have also been decreased, reducing fuel poverty and making it easier for people to live on the island. This long-term capital investment will continue to deliver benefits for many years.