Scottish Awards Night Nears for Community Wind Farm

30 Oct 2018

Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust is looking forward to this year’s Scottish Social Enterprise Awards ceremony, which takes place on Tuesday (November 6) in the Scottish Parliament.

The Trust is proud to have been shortlisted in the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2018 for Social Enterprise of the Year and Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year.

It has also been shortlisted in the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2018 for Social Enterprise of the Year and that ceremony will take place in Guildhall, London, on November 28. 

The Trust already has a couple of awards under its belt from the renewable energy and charity sectors, but the latest shortlistings are recognition of its innovation and success in operating a commercial business for social good.

The recognition is for the business model – which is about maintaining 100 per cent community ownership while also operating commercially, seeking to make maximum profit.

While it is more usual for community-owned projects to be run on a not-for-profit basis, the Point and Sandwick organisation sells the power generated from the turbines and then channels the profits into community projects.

Calum MacDonald, who developed the three-turbine, 9MW Beinn Ghrideag wind farm, said: “To be recognised for our work by both the Scottish and UK Social Enterprise bodies is a huge accolade and we are delighted to be in the running for these prestigious awards.

“The community energy business is itself an innovation. We’re not a normal social enterprise because we make profit – and we’re determined to make the most profit we can – but we’re not a normal commercial enterprise either because that profit doesn’t go away to shareholders somewhere else. It’s kept here on the islands.

“We’re a new hybrid type of company, a unique business model, combining commercial discipline with social and charitable purpose.”

Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, paid tribute to the role Calum had played, as consultant community wind farm developer, in making the Beinn Ghrideag dream a reality. Calum is also a former MP for the Western Isles.

Donald John said: “This award is the result of all the hard work Calum has done for his community in developing the wind farm over the many years. Because of all that work, we have succeeded in developing the biggest community-owned wind farm in the UK in terms of output… and succeeded in developing a business model that allowed us to disperse all our profits back to good causes in the community.

“We are now in the happy position of dispersing the financial benefits of the wind farm and that will only increase over the years. 

“There is no doubt in my mind that Calum’s experience and contacts were absolutely crucial in getting this project off the ground, built and operating so successfully. He calmly guided us through all the many pinch points in the development including switching banks at the eleventh hour. 

“He was able to do that because of his knowledge, his contacts and his expertise in development. At the end of the day, it was his contacts in Westminster and Edinburgh – and his patience and negotiating skills – that got us through all these difficulties.”

Point and Sandwick Trust had formed the initial steering group, to look into developing a community wind farm, in 2005 – and it was to be 10 years before that would be a reality.

The Scottish and UK Social Enterprise Awards recognise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society through innovation, impact and success in social enterprise. They celebrate “businesses that aim to change the world for the better” and there are seven awards categories. 

The triple shortlisting for social enterprise follows two previous awards for Point and Sandwick Trust. 

In 2015, the Point and Sandwick wind farm Beinn Ghrideag was named Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards and in June this year, the Trust took the trophy for ‘Celebrating Communities’ at the Scottish Charity Awards, run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Calum MacDonald and Donald John MacSween will be attending the awards.

Point and Sandwick Trust | http://www.pointandsandwick.co.uk