Celebrations at Westmill Wind Farm Co-op A celebration of green power, Westmill Wind Farm Co-op hosted a Grand Opening event for its members on the 3rd May 2008.
Special guest speaker and fellow co-operative member, Jonathon Porritt, toasted the success of the largest community owned and built wind farm in the UK. Over 600 members, friends and family arrived for the member’s AGM, which was followed by a splendid buffet lunch, samba band and speeches, lead by Jonathon Poritt and Landowner Adam Twine.
Jonathon gave an engaging and passionate speech commenting on climate change and the struggles the UK has in bringing renewable energy schemes like this to fruition. "I am delighted to have been asked by Adam Twine to officially unveil Westmill Wind Farm Co-op. I would like to congratulate all those who have been involved in this particular scheme over such a long time. Today is of enormous significance; now, we need to see models like this available to more communities across the UK, not just one that triumphs through adversity."
Guests took the opportunity to enjoy the weather and the surroundings and witness up close, the magnificent turbines, towering 49metres to the hub with 62metre rotor diameter.
Children enjoyed the burying of a time capsule followed by forums and workshops tackling ‘Low Carbon Co-op’s, Education, Arts & Partnerships’.
The first wind farm in Southern England to be 100% owned by the community, the £8million project near Swindon consists of five 1.3MW Siemens turbines powering the equivalent of 2,500 homes for the next twenty-five years.
The co-operative has 2,394 members and for the Westmill Co-operative Chair, Mark Luntley and its members, the event proved to be the culmination of a dream for many people. Energy4All, the UK’s leading expert in community-owned renewable energy schemes assisted in the development of Westmill. Energy4All Chair, Andrew King says: "We are delighted to have been able to support the Westmill Wind Farm Co-op throughout its long and difficult development. It should not take 15 years to get a project like this up and running if we are committed to tackling climate change. It is imperative the government gives urgent consideration to legislation favouring community owned renewable energy schemes at the planning stage."
The Co-operative Bank injected £3.85m worth of funding into the project. The Bank, committed to helping the fight against climate change has specifically set aside £400m towards energy and carbon reduction initiatives. Commenting on the completion of the Westmill wind farm, Chris Matthews, Senior Business Development Manager at the Co-operative Bank says: "We are delighted to have been involved and it is great to help a fellow co-operative. The Westmill members, the landowner and the team from Energy 4 All should all be very proud of their achievement."
Adam Twine, Landowner and initiator says "All the people who are a part of the Westmill project have helped make change happen in a co-operative way. I’m delighted to see this fantastic wind farm up and running, this is one small step in the right direction."