A Scottish village is showing its support for energy independence this weekend as it celebrates the fifth anniversary of a project to switch residents to low-cost, low carbon energy.
Fintry Development Trust (FDT) has dramatically increased the spread of households running on micro–renewables in the last year and a half. Over 15% of Fintry households now benefit from micro-renewable heating or generation systems through FDT’s innovative community energy advice service.
The community organisation aims to help increase the number of homes with micro-renewable installations to 80% by 2015 - 5 years before the ambitious Scottish Government 2020 targets.
The Stirlingshire village of Fintry, with around 300 households, has used the income from a wind turbine to undertake one of the most successful retrofit schemes in Scotland to insulate more than half its existing housing.
It has helped to buy a new heating system for the village hall and supported the Fintry Sports Club in replacing its oil fired heating with a biomass boiler using wood pellets for heating and hot water system.
On top of that, the village has launched a car sharing scheme to fill the gap left when all of its regular buses were withdrawn - and planted a community orchard, as well as developing a community growing scheme, to create a local food source.
The Fintry Development Trust was established five years ago to manage the income from one turbine in a nearby wind farm built by a commercial developer. It borrowed money from the developer to buy its share in the wind farm and once that’s paid back looks forward to a profit of around £400,000 per annum. But already the village is benefiting from regular sums, averaging £40,000-£70,000 per annum, which it invests in local projects.
Next on the list is investigating the potential for a local source of wood fuel and the Trust hopes to eradicate fuel poverty entirely, through district heating schemes. Five years ago more than half the households were suffering fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their income on fuel. Schoolchildren are already learning about the benefits of local forestry, by having their own woodland classroom.
This weekend, the village hosts the Fintry Renewable Energy Show (FRESh). Speakers include Maitland Mackie, one of Scotland’s best known dairy farmers, now campaigning for a massive network of community-owned wind turbines; Andy Wightman, expert on land reform and community land ownership; Max Carcus, a pioneer in renewable energy – who helped develop the world’s first commercial wave farm with the Pelamis device; and Eva Schonveld a member of PEDAL, Portobello's Transition group , an urban community, which is working on how to reduce its carbon footprint and build a sustainable future.