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Crofts excluded from green energy

CROFTERS and owners of small rural enterprises are encouraged by the Scottish Crofting Foundation (SCF) to invest in small renewables despite almost “insurmountable hurdles” to succeed with small-scale renewable energy production.

The SCF said opportunities are being wasted by bureaucracy and the difficulty to raise money for such projects.

The crofting organisation is advising against using the government’s own Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) to raise funds for small scale renewables.

Donnie MacDonald, SCF director and spokesman on renewables said: “There is a lot of enthusiasm for the opportunities this can have for rural communities and small enterprises.

“However, the opportunities are being thwart by it being very difficult for individuals to raise the capital to invest in power generation equipment.

“The SRDP is so difficult to get into it was universally advised to steer clear of it, banks don’t seem to be willing to lend on anything below 500kw and grants or interest-free loans available from the likes of the Energy Trust exclude the participant from then getting the Feed-in Tariff – the source of income necessary to make the venture pay.”

He added that in conclusion crofts were “effectively excluded” from benefiting from their natural resources, “unless they happen to have a large amount of their own capital to invest”.

Renewable energy is being promoted by the UK Government and incentivized by a fixed payment for every kilowatt-hour produced by a renewable source, called the Feed-in Tariff.

Mr MacDonald said: “It can still be a good opportunity for community schemes but they must take charge and not be pushed around by large energy developers who want the natural resource but pay the community peanuts.

“Communities can do it themselves and keep the profit.”