A controversial wind farm project is set to pump almost £250,000 a year into environmental projects in the Borders.
The Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills was the subject of a six-year protest campaign that attracted the support of such high-profile figures as television presenter and botanist, Dr David Bellamy.
The 48-turbine wind farm was bought by EDF Energy Renewables for an undisclosed sum earlier this year.
Opponents battling the project had conceded defeat last year after a Court of Session ruling rejected their bid to force a judicial review.
And this week came news that a deal has now been concluded between landowners Roxburghe Estates, EDF and the Tweed Forum, with the signing of an investment agreement to establish the Fallago Environment Fund.
The fund will receive contributions of £240,000 a year from the operator and landowner, with equal contributions by EDF and Roxburghe respectively.
The windfarm is currently under construction and once operational the agreed funds will be passed to the Tweed Forum to manage and start distributing, probably in 2013.
The fund will support a range of community environmental projects, with the stated aim “to enhance the quality of life for local communities and visitors to the Borders through investment in the protection, enhancement and appreciation of the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Scottish Borders environment.”
As well as communities closest to Fallago, other community groups and relevant organisations throughout the Borders will be eligible to apply for project support.
Administration of the fund will be undertaken by the Tweed Forum, a charitable trust and umbrella organisation whose remit is to protect and enhance the Tweed and its rich natural, built and cultural heritage.
The fund will be overseen by a management board comprising representatives of EDF, Roxburghe Estates and Tweed Forum, as well as two community representatives. The two community representative places will be advertised in the New Year.
The board will be chaired by Andrew Douglas-Home of Coldstream. Mr Douglas-Home, an accountant and former chairman of the River Tweed Commissioners, as well as a trustee of Abbotsford House, is regarded as a passionate countryman with a deep knowledge and understanding of local heritage and the management challenges involved.
After the signing of the investment agreement, Roxburghe Estates factor, Roddy Jackson, told us: “This is a major long-term investment for the Scottish Borders, directly associated with the new wind farm being built at Fallago Rig.
“The Roxburghe Estates and EDF Energy Renewables are committed to annual contributions of £240,000 toward environmental projects in the Borders.
“This is the first such fund that provides benefits to such a wide area beyond the immediate vicinity of the wind farm development.
“We believe it is important that local communities share in the benefits derived from the investment in new energy developments and that wind farms support environmental projects at a local level.
“This is a significant investment in sustaining the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Borders.”
EDF chief executive officer, Christian Egal, added: “EDF Energy Renewables has a strong belief that the development of wind farms such as Fallago Rig can and should deliver lasting benefits to the local communities and environment.
“EDF Energy Renewables is delighted to be working with Roxburghe Estates and Tweed Forum to deliver this legacy to the Scottish Borders community.”
The fund is one the largest of its type in terms of catchment area and will be open to applications from community groups and relevant organisations from all over the Borders.
And due to its proximity to the development, also to the parish of Gifford.
More information is expected to be publicised in due course through local media and via the Tweed Forum website.
EDF is a 50:50 joint venture between EDF Energy and EDF Energies Nouvelles. It is described as combining its parent companies’ renewable energy development skills, expertise, and resources in one place to spearhead EDF Group’s renewables development activities in the UK.
When Fallago Rig wind farm is complete, early next year, EDF will be operating 525MW of on and offshore wind throughout the UK.