Amid the rolling hills and woodland pastures of south-east Scotland, a wind of change is blowing through communities where low wages and casual work sit uneasily alongside the popular image of timeless market towns and pretty coastal villages.
|Alan Hobbett of Berwickshire Housing Association, left, with Jamie|
Adam of Community Energy Scotland at Hoprigshiels windfarm
near Cockburnspath, Scotland.
High above rich arable land by the North Sea, three tall wind turbines, blades spinning wildly, have started generating electricity for the national grid with two social purposes: to sell energy and use the income to deliver hundreds of new homes in a scattered rural community while, at the same time, providing additional funds for similar schemes elsewhere in Scotland.
The groundbreaking initiative is being hailed as a breakthrough in a distinctly different political climate from that in England. “What is happening here is a ‘first’ – relieving housing pressure by harnessing the wind for the benefit of everyone,” enthuses Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse.
Social housebuilding is actively supported by the Scottish government. Unlike its Westminster counterpart, it has ended the sale of public housing in “right-to-buy” schemes, once seen as the late Margaret Thatcher’s enduring legacy. It is pumping more money into affordable housing. And, unlike in England, Wheelhouse insists that onshore windfarms are similarly supported rather than discouraged, in a drive to ramp up generation from renewable sources.
Read Peter Hetherington’s story on The Guardian - “Scottish wind powers housebuilding in groundbreaking joint venture.”