Community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust are celebrating after scooping a prestigious win at this year’s Scottish Social Enterprise Awards – held in the Scottish Parliament, November 6, 2018.
The community wind farm organization, which runs the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm near Stornoway with the sole aim of plowing all the profits back into the community, was named ‘Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year’ in the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2018. It had also been shortlisted for ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’.
Consultant community wind farm developer Calum MacDonald, who had steered the 9-MW Beinn Ghrideag project to completion, was “absolutely delighted” with the win.
It is the third major award for Point and Sandwick Trust and the second this year.
“We’re very pleased for all our friends and supporters who backed us over the 10 years it took for us to get up and running and it’s a great recognition of their support,” said PST General Manager Donald John MacSween. “I’m particularly delighted because socially-owned turbines deliver 20 times more economic benefit into the local area as compared to conventionally-owned turbines – and that’s why, in countries like Denmark, half the turbines are socially owned in one form or another. They recognize the huge benefits this delivers into local areas.
The award recognizes the innovation and success of Point and Sandwick Trust in operating a commercial business for social good.
Macsween added: “People talk about big projects and small projects but, in terms of economic impact, the community projects are the big projects – by far.”
It is the first award for Point and Sandwick Trust from the social enterprise sector, with previous awards having come from the renewables and charities sectors.
In 2015, Beinn Ghrideag – the largest community-owned wind farm in the UK in terms of output – was named ‘Best Community Project’ at the Scottish Green Energy Awards.
Then, in June of 2018, Point and Sandwick Trust won the ‘Celebrating Communities’ trophy at the Scottish Charity Awards.
“We’re absolutely delighted to win another major award this year,” said MacSween. “Delighted for the Point and Sandwick community who have been steadfast in their support from the very beginning, never lost faith with us and now they are reaping the benefits in terms of the social grants that we are making on a regular basis.
When asked the key to Point and Sandwick Trust’s success, he said: “I think the secret is ambition, tenacity and sheer doggedness in getting the initial project off the ground and producing a benefit for the community. Now that that benefit is beginning to flow, we are only limited by our imagination.”
“We were encouraged by the community every step of the way and had it not been for that encouragement and support we may very well have faltered and stumbled in our mission to build the wind farm,” explained Macsween. “But that support never wavered and it’s still there and it’s a source of constant delight for Point and Sandwick to now be able to help all those organizations that supported us as we were getting the project off the ground.”
Donald John said the awards reception in the Scottish Parliament had been “excellent”, adding: “It was very, very busy, with lots of social enterprises there from all over Scotland and we did a lot of networking and made a lot of new contacts.”
The recognition from the Scottish Social Enterprise Awards is for Point and Sandwick Trust’s business model – which is about maintaining 100% community ownership while also operating commercially, seeking to make maximum profit.
John added: “It’s quite obvious to us that social enterprise is the way to go if the community is to benefit directly from their own endeavors.”
While it is more usual for community-owned projects to be run on a not-for-profit basis, the Point and Sandwick organization sells the power generated from the turbines and then channels the profits into community projects.
Point and Sandwick Trust has also been shortlisted in the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2018 – in the category of Social Enterprise of the Year – and that awards ceremony is being held in Guildhall, London, on November 28.