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Ethical wind farm project offers high returns

Heartland windInvestors seeking a high return while supporting ethical energy generation are being invited to subscribe to a wind project launched in Perthshire.

Heartland Community Wind is offering an annual return of around 7 % on an investment of  £100.

Backers of the project near Aberfeldy will also benefit from Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief at 30% and have a say in how the Community Benefit Society is run.

The share offer for Heartland, currently the only community wind project in mainland Scotland offering shares to the public, opened at a public meeting at The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy.

Sharenergy, the community energy specialist leading the project, said Heartland would appeal not only to local people but to others in Scotland looking for a solid, long-term return on an ethical investment.

“For people with money to invest over a longer period, this is a very attractive proposition,” said Sharenergy director Jon Halle.

“It is a canny way to beat low interest rates, delivering better returns. It will also appeal to the newly retired, who may wish to seek a better home for some of their pension pot. They can put funds into an ethical project like this, and know that their money is doing something good for the environment and for the local community while earning a fair rate of return.”

He added: “You don’t need a huge amount to invest, as shares are available from £100 – and every member gets an equal say in the running of the project.”

Two farm-scale wind turbines are due to be installed at the site by November. The turbine orders were placed after a highly successful ‘pioneer’ share offer raised £450,000. The full share offer, launched this week, will raise £1.4 million, with local investors given priority to buy shares in the project.

Philip Blake, who gained funding on the BBC television series Dragons’ Den for his ‘WoodBlocX’ garden product, is also a member of the Dingwall Wind Co-op.

“I joined because I liked the fact that it was a tax efficient way to invest and one that gave me a chance to get involved in renewable energy.

“It is eco and community friendly and as a co-op member I get to have some input. What’s not to like?”

From 2017, as part of the project’s community fund, £5,000 will be distributed to students from the PH15 postcode which covers the project site who attend Perth College UHI. Five of the students judged to be most deserving of the award will each receive £,1000 to put towards their studies.

John Swinney,  Scottish Finance Secretary, whose Perthshire North constituency covers the Heartlands site, has described the scheme as “an impressive and innovative way to ensure communities derive genuine benefits from wind turbine developments”. He added: “Decisions will be made locally, not in some far away corporation’s headquarters.”

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