Island starts green energy scheme

A scheme to generate community-owned clean energy on a Scottish island for at least 40 years has been launched.

Islanders on Mull have started a community-owned scheme to generate renewable energy

A scheme to generate community-owned clean energy on a Scottish island for at least 40 years has been launched.

A community share offer aims to raise a sizeable chunk of the money needed to generate at least 1,100MWh of renewable energy each year on the east coast of Mull.

The £1 million hydro-electric scheme on the Allt Achadh na Moine watercourse would be built and operated by Green Energy Mull, a new community benefit society.

Profits would go to local charitable, environmental and education projects, according to those behind the plan.

The share offer has been issued with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub.

Richard Thorne, a founder of Green Energy Mull, said: "This is an exciting opportunity for people to play a part in the creation of a community-owned enterprise generating clean, green, renewable energy. The enthusiasm and support that we have seen so far has been incredible.

"We are trying to encourage the widest possible participation and raise over a third of the money needed through community ownership.

"The more money that is raised by community investors, the less money we need to borrow and this will then enable us to plough more back into local community, environment, education and charitable projects."

Under the proposal, investors in the newly formed co-operative would have equal voting powers, irrespective of the size of their investment.

Each share costs £50 with a minimum investment of £250 required to become a voting member. The maximum investment allowed is £20,000.

Organisers of the scheme, initiated by members of the Mull and Iona Community Trust, hope to get the project under way in the spring, with a view to having it up and running by the end of next year.

Green Energy Mull expects to pay a return of up to 5% to investors after the second full year of operation.

Michael Fairclough, head of community and co-operative investment at The Co-operative, said: "There is significant potential for communities to control, generate and benefit from their own renewable energy.

"By working together, people can be powerful catalysts for change capable of overcoming many of the challenges facing society, the environment and economy.

"Co-operation can be key to bringing about the changes that people want to see in their communities."