Why Bullington Cross?
Most people in Hampshire support Wind Farming. Nationally, 68% support wind farms and only 10% are opposed to on-shore wind farming.
In Hampshire, there are only about half a dozen places that are suitable for wind farming. Each needs to be windy, away from homes but close to roads and not in areas of outstanding national beauty or in national parks.
Bullington Cross is isolated, windy and, being at the junction of two of Hampshire’s busiest roads, is noisy. The nearest large village is 3km away from the site. It is not in an area of outstanding natural beauty nor in a national park.
The site is made up of open arable farmland, in between areas of woodland. Part of the site is used as an organic farm; and will continue to be used for that purpose.
Why Renewable Energy in Hampshire?
Nationally, we have targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% before 2050, and produce 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Basingstoke & Deane, Test Valley and Winchester Councils have a policy to support these targets. Their planning decisions are normally consistent with these policies.
Almost all the Carbon Dioxide generated by human activity comes from burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. 40% of all Carbon Dioxide emissions come from electricity generation.
To get anywhere close to meeting the agreed targets we need to de-carbonise electricity production. We need to move away from old, dirty and inefficient fossil fuelled power stations to new and clean renewable technology.
All technologies whether “green” or not have costs and benefits. Wind farming is no different.
The benefits are both financial and environmental. Wind farmers generate a valuable commodity – electricity – which they sell. They also get income from selling renewable obligation certificates (ROCs). ROCs are a bit like stocks and shares. They can be bought and sold in an open market. For every million units of electricity generated the energy production company gets a number of ROCs which are then sold to the electricity companies.
The income from electricity and ROCs sales provides the wind farm operator with the income to pay operating costs – including rent to the landowner where the turbines are sited – repay the banks for any money borrowed and to make a profit. There are other benefits such as local job creation. This profit can then be used to repay investors.
At Bullington Cross we want to do things differently. We have set up a co-operative which is owned by the people of Hampshire. All of us will have the opportunity to invest in the Co-op. To do this we become members. Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative wants to own 10% of the wind farm. Some of profit we make will be used to pay back our members. We hope to keep half the profit and use it to invest in other community energy projects and in helping reduce fuel poverty in the county.
But it is not all about money. The environmental benefits of wind faring are even better. Wind farms are clean. Old fashioned power plants that burn oil, coal and gas produce Carbon Dioxide which causes climate change. Coal (which still produces 47% of the UK’s electricity) also produces emissions like Nitrous Oxides and Sulphur Dioxide (which produces acid rain). Burning coal also produces soot and fly ash as well as Mercury and Uranium. Even gas fired power stations produce enormous amounts of Carbon Dioxide and Nitrous Oxide. Wind farming does not produce any of these.
But wind farming does have some downsides. The local community have to give up some of their land; some people have to put up with the sight of the wind farm and some people think wind farms are ugly.
Hampshire Renewable Energy Co-operative believes that the benefits of wind farming should be shared fairly and equitably. We think it is fair that the financial benefits should be shared with the local community.
These benefits should not just go to the large multi-national developers and the big global banks. We also think that local people should have a say in how our wind farms are operated. We can have a more equitable share if part of Bullington Cross Wind Farm is owned by the local community. We believe that the best way of doing this is via a co-operative. Co-ops are owned by their members; work on a strict one member one vote basis and are democratic.
Co-op members will be asked to invest in the Co-op and receive an interest payment on the money invested. HREC – and our negotiating partner, Energy4All – are negotiating with EDF over the financial terms for a 10 per cent community investment. We expect that the return on investment will be substantially greater than rates from building societies!
We also believe that profits made by our Co-op should be ploughed back into the local community. We intend that all surpluses made by our Co-op will be re-invested in LOCAL renewable energy projects. This could include for example solar panels on local schools, energy efficiency programmes for local houses or installing renewable heating in village halls.
The choices are many – it will be Co-op members who decide how the money is invested.