Campaigners behind the bid to create Scotland’s first community-owned wind turbine have admitted they may take the scheme outside of Edinburgh after their chosen site was finally ruled out.
Two community groups in east Edinburgh had planned to erect a wind turbine at Seafield sewage works but the Scottish Government said the site was no longer suitable.
Developing on the land would prevent a future expansion of the works which serve the city, it said.
Portobello Energy Descent and Land Reform (Pedal) and Greener Leith had together secured £200,000 in funding for the project.
The turbine, which would cost between £1 million and £3.5m to build, could power between 300 and 1300 homes and money raised through the sale of the electricity would be pumped back into community projects, the groups said.
Both groups met Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and Scottish Water and the decision was made that another site would have to be found, although some involved in the project said it was unlikely there would be another suitable location in the city.
Chas Booth, Green councillor for Leith, said the move marked “a real loss to the community of Leith” and suggested Mr Ewing could have done more to ensure the project continued at the existing location.
He said: “This case is particularly embarrassing for the SNP in the week that they launched plans for more ‘community empowerment’. Here is a project that has excited the community and won a UK-wide vote from the public for funding, yet Ministers are unwilling to support it.”
Peter McColl, the rector of Edinburgh University who serves on the board of Pedal, added: “Unfortunately we were let down by the tenants on the site and we need to find another one that’s suitable. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there are many of these in Edinburgh and we may have to go outside the city.”
Charlotte Encombe, chairwoman of Greener Leith, said: “I really hope that we’ll work this out and that Scottish Water and the government will find a good place from which we can generate a significant amount of energy.”
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Although it is disappointing that the site originally identified cannot be used for this community wind turbine . . . the Scottish Government and Scottish Water have agreed to help Pedal and Greener Leith to find a site elsewhere.
“If a suitable site cannot be found, Scottish Water has indicated there are other ways they would be able to work with the Community Group, and the Scottish Government and Community Energy Scotland will explore the possibility of a partnership arrangement with a rural group to help Greener Leith and Pedal achieve their renewables ambition.”
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