Despite securing almost £200,000 of funding to build Scotland’s first urban wind turbine the future of the project is in jeopardy as the landowners remove their support.
Scottish Water, which is wholly owned by the Scottish Government, originally supported the scheme to locate a turbine at their Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works in Leith, Edinburgh but confirmed on Monday that it has “not proved possible to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with all the relevant parties”.
The community groups behind the project, Greener Leith and PEDAL claim that negotiations stalled when Scottish Water was told to accept liability for any accidents involving the proposed turbine by private sector companies that manage the Private Finance Initiative.
Plans for the turbine were awarded up to £80,000 in December last year after winning the online Energy Share public vote for their community owned wind turbine.
The Scottish Government also pledged a £118,000 loan in October 2011 to the scheme for preparatory work to be carried out. The money would be repaid from the sale of electricity generated but if the turbine is not built the money will not be paid back.
The groups behind the proposal for a turbine in Leith, Edinburgh have spoken out against Scottish Water’s decision to prevent the project from going ahead.
Eva Schonveld, Chair of PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town said: “We continue to try to resolve the issue of liability through negotiations and political solutions. It seems extraordinary that dozens of wind turbines operate without incident on sewage works around the world, but this cannot be done on public land in Edinburgh. We simply cannot accept that, which is why we are determined to find a way forward.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Water said: “Generating renewable energy remains a key priority for Scottish Water and we are already delivering significant community benefit through innovative use of our assets such as treatment works and pipelines where appropriate to do so.
“We have been supportive of the aims of PEDAL and Greener Leith and we have engaged in a positive manner with these groups over a number of months in relation to this project.
“However, as a result of the potential risks and associated liabilities which such a venture may have presented to Scottish Water it has, regretfully, not proved possible to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with all the relevant parties which would permit us to further explore the possibility of locating a single 80 – 125m wind turbine at Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works.
“Seafield WWTW, which is operated under a long-term PFI-funded arrangement, treats all of the Edinburgh’s waste water while protecting the natural environment of Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Firth of Forth and, as such, it is a highly strategic asset.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are aware of this project and are currently investigating the options available to PEDAL and Greener Leith.
“The Scottish Government is determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy. We have set a target of 500 MW of community and locally owned renewable energy projects by 2020, which could be worth up to £2.4 billion to Scottish communities and rural businesses over the lifetime of those projects.”
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