In the past decade, the UK has seen an incredible surge of community renewable energy projects across the country, proof that there is great appetite in communities to own and manage their energy, and to invest in renewable and cleaner sources.
In Fishguard, Wales, the community set up the Transition Bro Gwaun’s (TBG) renewables group in 2008 to look at local renewable generation. Being by the coast, they wanted to look at opportunities to generate energy from the tides, but found it too difficult to make it work.
In the summer of 2011, with support from the Welsh Government’s community renewables programme, Ynni’r Fro, they started to look for sites for a local community wind turbine. In 2015, they finally got the turbine up and running.
Throughout the process, they benefited from a range of support mechanisms that were in place at the time, in order to make it happen, but also faced many challenges. Their first planning application was refused in January 2014, largely on the basis of visual impact on the conservation area of Fishguard and Lower Town. The Local Authority also considered that community involvement carried no weight, but in the appeal decision, in August 2014, the application was allowed, with opinion reversed on both of those issues.
Having gained planning permission, they had to confirm grid access and Ofgem registration; the latter enabling the current Feed-in-Tariff rate to apply provided that connection was made within 12 months. The next task was to raise the £285,000 needed for TBG’s 50% share, which proved easier than expected, the whole amount being lent by 29 individuals and 3 local community groups within six months.
Local investment and support from Welsh Government’s programme were key factors in making this project happen, and the community in Fishguard is now happy to share its experience with other communities.
Find out more about Transition Bro Gwaun
Photo: Wilfred Knievel via Flickr