Common Good Fund – Income Generation
Timescale: 4-7 years completion
Invergordon has a very small Common Good Fund, which generates approximately £1,500 per annum from rental from the Town Hall, that the Community Council own and interest from the £35,000 fund. This fund is made up of benevolent gifts from former inhabitants of Invergordon who wanted to leave something to help the town in the future. These were often very small amounts, but in their day would have been of much higher value. All the other communities around the Cromarty Firth have Windfarm Funds that they can dip into for community projects, Alness, Ardross and Kiltearn having the greatest amounts to spend. Invergordon only has access to a small amount (£1,500) in the Beinn Tharsuinn windfarm fund, as it was thought that a few of the turbines could be seen from the odd part of Invergordon. The other towns mentioned above are able to see windfarms much more clearly so therefore they benefit from a community fund. With Invergordon and Saltburn being coastal they have no access to any of the bigger windfarm funds, which is unfortunate. So for many years I have been speaking to every windfarm developer I meet asking if they would consider doing a “community windfarm” for Invergordon, whereby we own 50% of a windfarm so that would give us an income of several hundred thousand pound each year that we can think of putting into projects for the town. Of course, it would mean raising half the money to build it which will not be an easy task, but I am willing to take it on.
Finally, early last year a windfarm developer called Simon Tribe from Wind Harvest said he would be interested in helping Invergordon and he discovered a place where we can build a windfarm together with 3-4 turbines, which if successful, could earn the town around £200-£300,000 per annum. This would be a fantastic achievement.
The location is up at Inchindown, beyond the farm and up on the hill. The hill is owned by private individuals who we have met with and who are interested in leasing their land and possibly investing in thte project themselves. Of course, we would take account of anyone living nearby and I have already spoken to one farming family who, in principle, would be supportive.
Raising around £2million which would be the community’s half to build it isn’t going to be easy but I have ideas about where some of it can come from. Also I would like to see it floated on the open market so that Invergordon residents and business could also invest it in, as little as £1000 each if they wished. They would keep this money in the fund for a few years after it begins to produce energy then be allowed to remove their investment, with interest at a higher rate than they would have gotten from a High St bank. I would then look for the greatest amount of funding from other organisations and ultimately borrow what is left.
It is early days for this project and at the moment we are being hamstrung as we need around £90,000 to start the project off. Mr. Tribe has already invested around £30,000 in this project looking at wind data and capercaillie nesting sites, so it is not fair for him to continue without the community also putting in some investment. We also need some of this initial money to draw up the legal agreement with Simon to make sure when we have planning consent that we (Invergordon community council) own half of that planning consent. Once we have this “asset” we are able to more easily obtain funding, but this initial amount is providing difficult. However, I am in talks with Community Energy Scotland and I am hopeful that Ross Jones will be able to assist us in this regard.
We already held a public meeting to which community leaders were invited to discuss the possible project and what Invergordon could spend that kind of income on. It was very interesting. This was held in the social club in the summer of 2015. The Council funded this and we had workshops which were very useful.
I am serious about this project, as Invergordon needs such an income to be able to tackle some of the massive issues in the town that hold us back such as the Seabank Tank Farm.