Rural community set for windfall

A wind farm which will provide hundreds of thousands of pounds over its lifetime to benefit a small rural Welsh community is set to start generating. FIM Services, the developers […]

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By Geoff Curran

A wind farm which will provide hundreds of thousands of pounds over its lifetime to benefit a small rural Welsh community is set to start generating.

FIM Services, the developers behind the Mynydd Portref wind farm near Brynna in South Wales, will pay £20,000 a year into a community fund to support local amenities. The 11-turbine wind farm will provide power for the equivalent of about 5,700 homes and save 9,000 tonnes of C02 emissions a year over its planned life of 25 years.

The Co-operative Bank has provided a loan of £8.375m towards the £16m project and electricity generated will be sold under a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with SmartestEnergy, which is the UK’s leading purchaser of energy generated by the independent sector.

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Councillor Roger Turner said the annual community benefit payment agreed as part of the scheme will provide a significant boost to the villages of Brynna, Heol-y-Cyw and Llanharan which are home to around 6,500 people.

He said: “With the wind farm about to open, we will now look to set up a steering group to decide how to spend the money and I’m sure there will be no shortage of suggestions,” said Councillor Turner.

The project is further benefiting the Welsh economy through rent and access payments to four local landowners and Ruthin-based Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK carried out civil and electrical work for the wind farm.

FIM Services, which manages investments including renewable energy and sustainable forestry on behalf of individuals and institutions, acquired the project from Tegni Cymru Cyf in 2011.

“We’re delighted with the rapid progress we’ve made on Mynydd Portref and now look forward to it contributing to the Welsh Government’s renewable energy targets and providing benefits to local residents,” said Edward Daniels, FIM Director.

James Sutcliffe, Senior Manager – Renewable Energy at The Co-operative Bank, said: “This scheme illustrates perfectly the benefits that renewable energy schemes can have for communities.

“The money paid into community benefit funds can have a real impact in improving the fabric of life in local areas, empowering them to diversify their economy at a time when, like many other communities, they face significant economic and social pressures.”

The Co-operative Bank’s lending to renewable energy projects since 2007 recently passed the £500m milestone and it is committed to double lending to the sector to £1bn by 2013 as part of its pioneering Ethical Plan, developed by the Bank’s parent, The Co-operative Group.

SmartestEnergy is currently working on a healthy pipeline of independent renewable energy projects across Wales.

Mark Knights, SmartestEnergy’s Head of Business Development, said: “These projects enable communities, landowners, farmers and investors to benefit from a local resource, diversify income streams and also play a part in tackling climate change.”