Berwick residents will benefit from a £2.3m windfall over the next 25 years thanks to a ground-breaking deal brokered this week.
As a result of the deal signed by Berwick CoRE Ltd, Baxendale Invest, Verco and Advance Renewables, work has started on a £1.5m wind turbine on the northern outskirts of the town.
The 50-metre high 500kw turbine will be sited midway between the A1 road and the main East Coast railway line adjacent to the Ramparts Business Park, and will generate enough electricity for 450 homes.
Extensive testing over some 15 months has established that the windy site overlooking the North Sea is ideally suited as a location for ‘green’ energy generation.
It is thought this is the first time any community trust in the country has been involved in a deal structured in this way, to generate renewable energy on a commercial scale.
Sixty per cent of the lifetime income generated from the turbine will go to Berwick CoRE – a company now wholly owned by the Berwick Community Trust – with the remainder shared by other partners.
The idea of commissioning the turbine was first mooted around five years ago by the Berwick-based Community Renewable Energy Co Ltd (CoRE) that develops renewable energy projects for communities. The Trust joined the company in a joint venture partnership to drive forward the project through Berwick CoRE.
Now 80 per cent of the income from the turbine going to Berwick CoRE will be retained by the Trust with the remainder going to the original CoRE company.
The Trust will receive an initial payment of £100,000 then another £54,000 in the first year of the turbine’s operation, with annual income rising to more than £100,000 in Year 12. All in all the income will add up to an estimated £2.3m at today’s prices.
Julien Lake, Trust chief executive, said: “The deal we have signed will not only generate a substantial supply of renewable energy over the next 25 years but will deliver a truly significant sum of money for the benefit of the town, its people, businesses and the many visitors who come to Berwick each year.
“It is not only a visible commitment to ‘green’ energy but it is going to make a real difference to Berwick for very many years.”
For the past two years the project has progressed with the help of consultants Verco and turbine developer Advance Renewables. The turbine is expected to be erected towards the end of this year.
Just over £1m towards the turbine development costs has come from the Co-op Bank with the remainder provided by Baxendale Invest – a provider of investment capital to community-owned and social businesses - and Advance Renewables.