Category Archives: Energy

Our turbine proposals have gone into planning!

It’s up to Highland Council now whether the project can go ahead, but we’re delighted to have got this far. Below are some details from our press release.

As you will have noticed the Energyshare website hasn’t been closed down – Energyshare decided to keep it open after many of the groups featured asked them to do so. So we will continue to keep in touch with you in this way – unless you tell us you don’t want to receive these updates.

Community renewables project reaches crucial milestone:

A community-owned renewable energy project has reached a crucial milestone with the submission of a detailed planning application to Highland Council.

The project, which has been jointly developed by two Edinburgh-based community organisations, aims to generate clean, renewable energy, contributing to Scottish Government efforts to tackle climate change.

The two 750KW wind turbines at the heart of the project will also generate a financial return that will be shared between local community organisations near the project and the non-profit groups that developed the initiative, Greener Leith and PEDAL Portobello.

Charlotte Encombe, Greener Leith Chair said: “Volunteers from both Greener Leith and PEDAL Portobello have invested hundreds of volunteer hours to get the project to this stage, fundraising, managing contractors and meeting with local community groups.

“All the environmental studies on the site show that our community-owned wind project will have little impact on the surrounding area, and unlike most commercial energy developments, this project will provide a significant financial return to support community-led initiatives in the local area as well as in Leith and Portobello.”

The project is currently 95% owned by two Edinburgh-based community groups Greener Leith and PEDAL Portobello. A number of community organisations local to the project have already been approached by volunteers from the project, and offered the opportunity to invest in the project.

Eva Schonveld, PEDAL Portobello Chair said: “Whilst community groups close to the project are already guaranteed to receive annual community benefit payments from the project, we are also able to offer non-profit organisations in the local area the opportunity to invest in the project directly too.”

“All over Scotland, renewable energy projects like this are generating resources for community groups that can help them revitalise their areas, whilst simultaneously tackling climate change and UK dependence on fossil fuels from foreign countries.

“We’re really excited about reaching this important milestone in our project and keen to start playing a part in the community-owned renewable energy revolution.”

Should the project receive planning permission, construction of the wind turbines is expected to begin in 2015.

PEDAL ‘Street Level’ – make it happen on your street!

PEDAL ‘STREET LEVEL’ NEEDS YOU TO
“DO GOOD STUFF ON YOUR STREET”

Would you love to have a street party on your street — but never got round to mak­ing it hap­pen? Or do you think car-sharing with a few people who live close by would make sense, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Maybe you think it’s crazy that 10 people in your street have a lawn mower, when you could all just use the same one?

If so, Street Level may be for you.

It’s not complicated – just the chance to bring together a bunch of people who’d like to start something good on their street – so they can share a bit of moral and prac­tical sup­port. Let’s get together, share ideas and resources and sup­port one another to make good things hap­pen on our streets.

The kinds of things we might do are:

Organise street parties

Join Streetbank

Get on-street bike storage

Start community gardens

Build on-street planters/trees

Make or commission public art

Share chickens

Start food/solar/insulation co-ops…

… stuff like that.

If you’re interested, email info [at] pedalporty [dot] org or call Eva

Next Steps to New Site for Community Wind Energy Project

Long standing supporters of PEDAL will remember that we won a UK-wide funding competition, in partnership with Greener Leith, to help us build a community owned wind turbine at Seafield.

visualisation of how the turbines will look from a local access route.

Visualisation of how the turbines will look from a local access route.

P&L Turbine hub-heightAlthough Scottish Water subsequently pulled out of the deal, preventing us from building a turbine at Seafield, we did not give up, and are now pleased to be able to confirm that we’ve secured a new site for the community turbine project – four kilometres south west of Inverness.

The agreement follows a year of complex negotiations. The land deal gives us exclusive rights to conduct studies at the site and build two wind turbines of up to 800KWp capacity each.

P&L Turbine tomfat-mapTo take the project forwards we have established a joint venture company which is majority owned by PEDAL and Greener Leith. Consultants to the project, SCENE, own a minority (five percent) stake.

In addition, planning permission has recently been granted to install a met mast on the site to measure the wind resource, which will happen in the next month or so.

The next step is to meet with the communities near to the site.  We hope local non-profit groups will become partners in the project too, and are offering them the chance to invest in, and become part owners of it. We want this to be a project that brings real environmental and financial benefits, not just to our own communities, but to those where the turbines will be located.

We’ve already begun this process and will be presenting on the project at Strathnairn Community Council’s meeting on 26th May.

The aim is to submit a full planning application to Highland Council sometime in August. If it gets planning permission, the project could generate an estimated £7m surplus over the twenty year lifespan of the project, to be distributed between the community groups who invest in the project – including PEDAL  and Greener Leith.

A spokesperson for the project said:

“Signing a land deal is a huge milestone for this project. PEDAL and Greener Leith volunteers have worked for years on this project and both organisations remain firmly committed to community-owned renewable energy. Our attention is now focussed on identifying potential non-profit community partners local to the site who we can work with to help us take the project forwards and share in the subsequent benefits.

“Although a lot still needs to happen before we can be certain the project will go ahead, we hope to put in a full planning application later in the year, with a view to starting construction on site in 2015. We’d like to thank all the people who have got behind the project, especially our key funders, for their ongoing support.”

You can find out more about the project at the specially set-up website at http://communityturbines.wordpress.com.

Busking Bike at the market on the 5th April

In collaboration with the Science Festival, we’re very pleased to welcome the Busking Bike, who’ll be with us the whole morning.  With mind-boggling experiments and dazzling science demos, Busking Bikes take street performance to a whole new level. Find out all about the latest developments in Scottish science and witness explosions, weirdness and plenty of mess.  

Bill McKibben is talking on Fossil Fuel Divestment in Edinburgh, 30th October

 If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.

We’re all connected to institutions that claim to be looking out for the public good, from local councils and governments, to universities, public banks and religious institutions. Many of these institutions, however, continue to support the fossil fuel industry whether we know it or not. Given that we have to leave 80% of the proven reserves of coal, oil and gas in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic changes to our climate, these institutions have a responsibility to stop supporting an industry whose business model is based on wrecking our future.

This autumn Bill McKibben, the 350.org crew, and a wide range of climate leaders will hit the road to help build a movement strong enough to change the terrifying maths of the climate crisis. The Fossil Free Europe Tour isn’t your typical lecture – it will include speakers from across social movements, powerful videos, and music from the ground-breaking artist Filastine. Grab a ticket and be part of a unique and complete experience, unlike any talk you’ve been to before.

7-10pm, 30th October, 

Asembly Hall on the Mound
Mound Pl 
EH1 2LX

Here’s the link to book a ticket:
https://www.eventbrite.com/event/8515878221

Scots Together is here – this is your opportunity to get involved.

What is it?

Scots Together is a collective purchasing collaboration which enables residents of Scotland to get together to buy their energy more cheaply, by negotiating as a group to get a better deal with the energy companies.

Opens Monday 18 February and closes on Sunday 17 March 2013

Scots Together partnership between Changeworks, the Eden Project, and uSwitch, based on a successful scheme in Cornwall called ‘Cornwall Together’.

It’s free to access and use. Go to the www.scotstogether.com website with a recent energy bill in hand to register your details in order to become a member of the group.

Green Homes open day in Edinburgh – Saturday 29 September

Visit a local home to see renewables in action

Have you ever thought about generating your own energy at home?  Why not come and have a chat with some green homeowners in your area?

On Saturday 29 September, eight homeowners in Edinburgh will open their homes and share their renewables experience.  This is part of a Scotland-wide event with a total of 48 homes taking part across the country.

Energy Saving Scotland advice centre South East is joining forces with Transition Edinburgh South and Transition Edinburgh Pentlands to provide an information hub at Colinton Mains Parish Church. Please come along, and meet with installers and with our independent expert advisors who can even visit you to see what’s suitable for your home.

How to take part

·         Visit greenhomesopenday.org.uk to find out where the homes are and which technologies they have

·         Decide which homes you’d like to visit.

Most homes will be open between 10.30am and 4.30pm, but please check the details on the map.

·         Speak to our specialists at the local hub event, find out more about generating energy at home and meet installers. 

Funded by the Scottish Government, the Green Homes open day is part of the Green Homes Network which provides you with the exciting opportunity to visit green homes in your area. You can find out first hand how different renewable systems run in real homes, hear about actual costs and savings, and get tips and advice that could help you on your way.

P.S. Please let your friends and neighbours know about this event!

Alternative site to be identified for turbine

Our regular readers will know that PEDAL volunteers have been working hard with those at Greener Leith to develop a community owned wind turbine at Seafield Sewage Works. In January this year we hit a stumbling block in negotiations over the Seafield site, in relation to safety and liability issues should there be an accident involving the turbine. In response PEDAL and Greener Leith produced options for consideration by the Scottish Government.

On 28th May, Scottish Energy Minster Fergus Ewing chaired a meeting at Seafield involving all parties, in an attempt to find a way forward. However, representatives of landowners Scottish Water and site operators Veolia Water stated that the site is no longer considered suitable for a wind turbine due to the possible need for land to expand the waste water treatment works in the future.  

While this development is frustrating, we are pleased to say that Scottish Water have pledged to help us find another site for a community turbine, or to otherwise help the communities of Portobello and Leith achieve their renewable energy aspirations. Fergus Ewing MSP will chair a follow up meeting with Scottish Water in September to review progress on these possibilities. 

This press release below was agreed by all the parties involved in the negotiations and was issued by the Scottish Government last Friday, 8th June. 

Community groups, Scottish Government and Scottish Water to work together.

Community groups, Scottish Water and the Scottish Government have agreed to work together to find an alternative site for a wind turbine owned by communities in the East of Edinburgh.

Following a meeting between Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, representatives from PEDAL (Portobello Transition Town), Greener Leith and Scottish Water agreed to find an alternative site for a community-owned wind turbine for the East of Edinburgh.

The two community groups had planned to erect a wind turbine at Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works, with money raised from the turbine benefiting both communities, but the site is no longer considered suitable.

The land in question provides the only potential for vital expansion of the Waste Water Treatment Works serving Edinburgh should this be necessary to meet future customer demands. At the meeting on May 28, also attended by local MSP Kenny MacAskill, all parties agreed to work together to find an alternative site, or another way for Scottish Water to work with the community groups.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland is leading the way across the UK in how we support local and community ownership of renewable energy, and I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefits of renewable energy.

“Although it is disappointing that the site originally identified cannot be used for this community wind turbine, this was a positive and productive meeting.

“The Scottish Government and Scottish Water have agreed to help PEDAL and Greener Leith to find a site for another scheme elsewhere.

“If a suitable site cannot be found, Scottish Water have indicated there are other ways they would be able to work with the Community Group, and the Scottish Government and Community Energy Scotland will explore the possibility of a partnership arrangement with a rural group to help Greener Leith and PEDAL achieve their renewables ambition.

“I have asked to be kept up to date on this issue and will be closely following progress.”

Free insulation for Porty households (and across south east Scotland)!

City of Edinburgh Council (and other local authorities across south east Scotland) have made free cavity wall and loft insulation available to households regardless of their income. This offer is open to all homeowners and tenants of private landlords. The only requirement is that your home can take cavity and/or loft insulation. It will also cover measures to enable the work to happen, such as scaffolding or enlargement of loft hatches.

To access this fantastic offer phone 0800 512 012, or text ‘Warm’ to 81025, or e-mail freeinsulation [at] se [dot] energysavingscotland [dot] org [dot] uk

Measures will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, so you are encouraged to apply quickly. Loft insulation alone can save on average £175 a year on heating costs! Have you got yours yet?

Porty & Leith Community Wind Turbine hits stumbling block in land negotiations

We are very disappointed that our plans for the first urban community wind turbine in Scotland have hit a stumbling block after the landowner, Scottish Water, changed their stance on the project at the start of this year.

Negotiations stalled after the private sector companies that manage the PFI contract at the treatment works demanded that Scottish Water accept liability for any accidents involving the proposed turbine on the site.

Although the risk of the wind turbine damaging the sewage works is extremely small, Scottish Water – which is 100% owned by Scottish Ministers –  have said they are not willing to accept the risk, even though PEDAL and Greener Leith would fund an insurance policy as part of the project.

Talks with Scottish Water and the companies that manage the Seafield site through a Private Finance Initiative began in February 2011. Despite receiving several written assurances from senior staff representing the organisations involved that they would back a turbine on this site, it was not until 19th January 2012, nearly a year later, that Scottish Water changed their stance on the crucial land deal.

Representatives of PEDAL, Greener Leith and Scottish Water last met on 1st February 2012 in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the issue. Since then, having already put in many hundreds of hours over many months to get the project to this stage, we have attempted to lobby Scottish Government ministers in a bid to find a way forward. 
 We’ve called on them to direct Scottish Water to indemnify the PFI contract holders from any risk associated with this project. Alternatively, the Scottish Government should create an indemnity bond to cover community renewable projects on land subject to PFI. This could be covered in the future from the proceeds from community projects that have benefited from it.

To date Scottish Water has not changed its stance on the project.

The extent of the influence of private contractors over Scottish Water is unclear as the project requires a land deal that would last longer than the current PFI contract at Seafield – and the land, like Scottish Water, is ultimately owned by the public sector. 

Proposals to build a single wind turbine on the site are the result of long standing collaboration between PEDAL and neighbouring community group Greener Leith. We already have funding from the Scottish Government and British Gas Energyshare in place to take the project to planning application and grid connection. 


Expert opinion suggests that the Seafield site is the most productive site in the area. To date, our feasibility work has not uncovered any environmental or engineering reason why the Seafield project could not proceed. 

Eva Schonveld, Chair of PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town said:

 “We are particularly frustrated that Scottish Water has taken a whole year to identify these issues, during which a huge number of volunteer hours have been put into the project. Our feasibility work shows there are no technical ‘show-stoppers’ to building a turbine here, we are the most supported of nearly 1000 projects across the UK that took part in the Energyshare competition, and we have all the funds in place to take the project to planning submission.

“We continue to try to resolve the issue of liability through negotiations and political solutions. It seems extraordinary that dozens of wind turbines operate without incident on sewage works around the world, but this cannot be done on public land in Edinburgh. We simply cannot accept that, which is why we are determined to find a way forward.”

Charlotte Encombe, Chair of Greener Leith said:

“We are bitterly disappointed to have got this far only for the project to be stalled on what looks like a technicality.
We are exploring every available option to resolve this impasse, and will not give up on the project yet. We owe it to the thousands of supporters who voted for us on Energyshare.com, the hundreds of local people who will benefit and our project funders to try to find a way to break the deadlock.”

Georgy Davis of Community Energy Scotland, a membership organisation that represents community renewable energy projects in Scotland said:

“This is a disappointing turn of affairs for this inspirational project that is a result of significant community efforts.

“The issue of indemnity for third parties in relation to land that has existing infrastructure on it is one that could be of increasing significance for community-led renewable projects particularly in the urban environment potentially hampering the Scottish Government’s ability to achieve it’s target for renewables in general and community renewables in particular. We believe the issue needs resolved.”

The two groups held a peaceful demonstration at the proposed site yesterday, 28th April. 

Large scale wind turbines can be found at industrial sites in other countries such as England, Holland and the USA. These include turbines at commercial ports, chemical plants, water treatment and waste water treatment works. Those to be found in operation in England include 1x 1,300KWp turbine at Hull Waste Water Treatment Works and 2x 600KWp turbines at Mablethorpe Sewage Treatment Works. Further, consented wind projects at waste water treatment works are: Bristol (4x 3,000KWp), Newthorpe in Nottinghamshire (1x 3,300KWp) and Severn-Trent in Leicestershire (1x 3,400KWp).


The Scottish Government’s target is to achieve 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020 and 500MW of community-owned renewables by the same date. See their Electricity Generation Policy at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00389294.pdf for more information. To-date, community owned renewable energy projects in Scotland have a combined generating capacity of 19MW, mainly in the form of on-shore wind and hydro.

More than 90 PFI or PPP projects exist on publicly-owned land around Scotland, therefore PEDAL and Greener Leith believe it is only a matter of time before other community renewables projects encounter similar problems.