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Funding is secured for town wind turbine

Plans to build a community wind turbine on the northern outskirts of Berwick can finally proceed after a £1.45m funding package was agreed.

It is four years since the proposal for the 74m tall turbine at the Steps of Grace, between the A1 and the east coast mainline to the north of the Ramparts Business Park, was initially unveiled.

Berwick Community Trust and Community Renewable Energy (CoRE) established a joint venture company to develop the project and received planning permission 18 months ago but had been unable to secure funding due to the difficult economic climate.

However, they accepted an offer from an organisation called Verco at its meeting on Tuesday night which comprises financial backing from the Co-op Bank and Baxi Partnership.

They will meet the estimated £1.45m cost of installing the 500kw Enercon E48 turbine and take a 39 per cent share of the profits its generates.

The other 61 per cent will be shared by Berwick Community Trust and CoRE, providing a vital income that will enable it to work on other projects for the town’s benefit.

A period of due diligence will now be undertaken by the funders before they order the turbine. Work would be expected to start in the autumn and take 15 months to complete.

Julian Lake, chief executive of Berwick Community Trust, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have finally agreed the financing for the community wind turbine.

“A lot of the money it generates will go to support the efforts of the trust and its projects such as the substance misuse scheme we’re looking to develop for people with drug and alcohol issues.

“One of the great things about this deal is that it brings in a lump sum for us so even though the turbine will not be making money for a couple of years there will be finances available for the trust which will help stabilise our situation.

“We have obviously been hit by cuts in funding so we can not overstate the importance of this deal so that we can start to plan some of the things we want to do for the town. We now have a solid financial base and a lot more staff time to get stuck into projects like the town team which was developing the Portas bid. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a real difference to the town rather than worrying about whether we’d be here in 12 months.”