A company which plans to help communities develop their own renewable energy systems like wind turbines for cash has been launched.
It follows the initiative by The Berwick upon Tweed Community Development Trust, owned by local people, which will benefit from a £2.3m windfall over the next 25 years.
The money will be used to provide benefits for residents, unemployed and older people, businesses and visitors to live, work and play in the town.
The social business, Community Renewable Energy, CoRE, organised the installation of the turbine working along with Berwick Trust.
However the work of CoRE has now ended and in its wake the new company has been set up called Sustainable Community Energy North East (SCENE).
Working in partnership with the North East Social Enterprise Partnership, it is looking to use the Berwick scheme as one of its business models.
Keith Richardson, Chair of CoRE who is involved in the new scheme, said: “It is very exciting to have set up the first community wind turbine in the North East and one of the very few in the country but we are now even more excited with our plans to set up many other types of renewable energy schemes with the potential to generate local benefits whilst, at the same time, tackling the green energy agenda.”
Overall, the Berwick turbine will produce electricity for 500 houses and it will save 1,100 tones per year of carbon dioxide – a massive saving for the environment. CoRE has also worked on a range of schemes, such as helping on the installation of wind turbines at Oakenshaw and Crook in County Durham.
As well as Mr Richardson, Gunter Woltron is part of the team and is a technical expert on wind turbines and Anaerobic Digestion plants which produce fuel from industrial or commercial waste.
His colleague, Linda Rutter, has helped nearly a 100 community businesses.
She said: “We will provide free support and training for local people and together we will install renewable systems, and, at the same time, get more money for communities.”
Ms Rutter explained that communities will not have to raise the finance to develop schemes as SCENE will support them to find grants and loans.
They will keep around 80% of the profits while SCENE will then use its share to support further renewable schemes, training and other community benefits.
The company is planning to hold regular public meetings and is setting up training courses.
The first community meeting will be at 7pm on Tuesday at Brunswick Methodist Church in Newcastle where people will be able to discuss what renewable energy schemes could be developed locally and how SCENE will help them.