A breath of fresh air

When a development of 29 wind turbines became operational on the slopes of Carn Ghiublais and Carn Kitty on Altyre Estate in May 2014, it began to produce enough clean electricity every year to power around 43,000 homes. But the wind farm has had wider benefits to the community in the region south of Forres in the north of Scotland.

The owner of the Berry Burn wind farm is Statkraft UK, a wholly owned enterprise of the Norwegian Government and Europe’s leading provider of renewable energy, which leases the land from Altyre Estate.

As part of the development, it committed to transfer a sum of £166,750 each year for the next 25 years, adjusted to the Retail Prices Index to keep in line with inflation, to be used for the benefit of the community within a defined area.

The fund is available for Forres, East Nairnshire, Grantown on Spey, Cromdale & Advie, Speyside, Heldon, Findhorn and Kinloss, Finderne and Dyke Landward. It is administered by the Berry Burn Community Fund, which allocates funding for a range of projects with a focus on helping to create a vibrant community, including initiatives around education, the environment, health, outdoor activities and welfare or community improvements.

Eddie Tomkinson, Chairman of the Berry Burn Community Fund, said: “Since we set up the fund, we have contributed to projects ranging from £18,000 for the Dallas Community Development Trust to purchase new playground equipment, to £1,000 towards the purchase of a professional standard cello for local musician Oliver Clark, who is studying at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh.”

There are currently 10 members of the Berry Burn Community Fund, all unpaid and based within the region and who share a commitment to improving community life.

“The Fund’s trustees come from across the region and from many different walks of life, so when an application comes in we have a more intimate knowledge of what it’s about, and can get more to the heart of the requirements.

Owner of Altyre Estate, Sir Alastair Gordon Cumming, is also positive about the impact that the renewable energy development has had. “I think if you are fortunate enough to own a suitable piece of land, then a wind farm development is a game-changing event in terms of your farm or estate,” he said. “Biomass is our only other renewable and this is primarily because Moray has plenty of trees. Renewables themselves are interesting in that they are an alternative to the standard sources of energy, but what is also of interest to me is what other enterprises can be looked at because of them.”