A village community group has shown that wind turbines don't necessarily need grant funding to get up and running. In Hockerton, around 75 people bought shares in a local turbine, which produces 250,000kWh a year.
Community-led organisation Sustainable Hockerton (SHOCK) funded a 225kW wind turbine in Hockerton, Nottinghamshire that started exporting electricity to the grid in February 2010.
In 2006 a group of villagers started a series of meetings to look at ways of reducing Hockerton's 'carbon footprint'. They decided that the best way was to kickstart a range of green schemes from waste reduction to water treatment. The first project was to install a wind turbine that would also bring in ongoing revenue.
The group set up Sustainable Hockerton Limited (SHL), an industrial and provident society. This was done with the help of Nottingham County Council and Social Enterprise East Midlands who provided small grants to help with legal and accountancy costs to set up the business.
SHL sold shares to pay for the turbine and £235,250 was raised via the website, email marketing and publicity in the community. A total of 75 investors signed up: a third from the small village of Hockerton itself.
The aim was to have a turbine of sufficient size to produce electricity equivalent to the consumption of the parish. This electricity is sold to the grid and profits will be invested in the local community. The key drivers of the plan were to use more renewable energy, and to use the income to pay for other projects aimed at reducing waste and increasing self-sufficiency in water and water treatment. The scheme was also seen to be a great way to educate local people about climate change.
Finding almost a quarter of a million pounds of investment was a daunting task. SHL made an arrangement for a bridging loan as a stopgap. This was not needed in the end, but was a useful option to have in contingency.
Objections raised in the village survey were mainly on the grounds of visual intrusion, either on the landscape or from the flicker of the turning blades. To address these concerns SHL added 100 meters to the Government's guidance distance of 400 metres between properties and larger wind turbines. This gave residents further reassurance.
The planning process was seen as a significant challenge. A great deal of effort was put into drawing up a detailed application that covered the following:
- shadow flicker
- Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation Authority requirements
- TV aerial disturbance
- wildlife and landscape impact
- electromagnetic disturbance.
Full planning permission was given in June 2008.
Simon Tilley, a Director of SHL, said that ensuring you get value for money when budgeting the project is essential. Always get a full set of quotes from all companies you consider working with and map out all costs carefully.
He also advises that arranging connection to the grid is a long process and must be factored in early, and grid connection costs take a long time to be calculated. The best approach is to get a good relationship with the relevant district network operator.
The turbine is performing well and is expected to produce 250,000kWh for the first year. This is slightly below initial estimates, but understandable as wind levels fluctuate from year to year.
Director of Sustainable Hockerton Limited
3 July 2012