The Radio City Association (RCA) in Kilbirnie plan to invest £6million over 20 years into community projects in the Garnock Valley, if North Ayrshire Council approve their plans for a community owned wind turbine.

RCA have been supported throughout the planning process by the Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and North Ayrshire Council have already approved their plans for a hydro scheme in conjunction with Scottish Water which the group hope could inject much needed reinvestment into the area.

Gordon McGuinness, long standing chairperson of the well-known charity said: “We have done our sums and this level of investment in our local community exceeds even that of the Glasgow City Deal (GCD) on a per capita basis for the people of the Valley. GCD plan £1.015billion total UK and Scottish Government (and local authority additional borrowing) City Deal investment in Glasgow City Region covering a 2.8 million population in Glasgow City Region, equalling £36.25 per head of population.

Our single community owned RCA Turbine returns a minimum of £6m investment over 20 years, with no requirement for Council match Funding to a population in the Valley of c 21,000 equivalent to £285 per head of population. Taking Beith & Kilbirnie’s combined population of 14, 974, it equals £400.70 per head and at a Kilbirnie level only, it equals a massive £824 per capita investment and could be truly transformative for this area. “Certainly no one else to our knowledge plans anything like an equivalent investment in the valley over the same period and in these days of austerity and severe constraints on the public purse it is an economic opportunity for the valley that is too good to miss in our view.

“Another fact that is worthy of emphasising repeatedly is that our single turbine will return more by way community benefit to the valley than all the other commercial turbines currently visible in area will return to every other community in North Ayrshire combined, due to the fact that our turbine being community owned returns 100 per cent of its revenues back into community reinvestment while most of the other turbines in private hands return a fraction of what they earn their shareholders back into the community.

“One of the reasons Radio City Association embarked on this project almost three years ago is that our requests for support from local windfarms were rebuffed by their owners or local funds set up in their name because the Valley towns were outside their ‘community’ fund’s area of operation - despite their turbines being visible on a daily basis across the Valley. Our Community Benefit Fund will rectify this major anomaly and will ensure local Valley communities benefit directly from our investment.”

Radio City Association consider their development can address many of the challenges and socio?economic issues in the local area and promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth. As Mr McGuinness explained; “The project benefits and impacts will change lives positively. RCA has set out to address local socio-economic challenges with ambitious regeneration proposals in a developed concept known as the “Electric Valley”. This includes the proposed wind turbine as a key economic and social asset for the Garnock Valley Community and a major income generator for the community. This will generate over £6 million for investment in the community which is forecast to create and safeguard 18 jobs directly per annum before taking account of multiplier effects.

RCA Director and former Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson said: “Our first priority in the early years of the project as we look to repay our capital debt will be to return as much community benefit as possible to local people and RCA propose setting up a community benefit fund that communities and individuals can bid into independently the minute the wind and hydro turbines begin to turn. These include an ‘Education and Training Bursaries’ Fund, ‘Children and Young Peoples’ Fund, a ‘Well-Being’ Fund and ‘Small Grant’ fund for local organisations.

“Through these funds we hope to help members of the community of the Garnock Valley who wish to develop their skills and who are undertaking courses delivered by accredited organisations and recognised training providers and any adults wanting to undertake further training/ skills development to do so.” Additionally our young peoples and well-being funds are for individuals to enable them to access activities or obtain equipment that will support their development and to participate (including to perform) in a range of arts, cultural and natural heritage, leisure and recreational and scientific events, non-certificated/informal lifelong learning courses and activities.

Finally, as a long standing charity and community development company operating in the Valley we know how difficult it is for local community organisations to secure funding and our small grants scheme is open to community organisations (voluntary bodies, etc.) that want to apply for funding for a project which meets one of RCA’s wide-ranging charitable objects and which will benefit the community of the Garnock Valley” concluded Mr Wilson.