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Community wind farm Point and Sandwick Trust has been shortlisted for another award – this time, for the title of Best Community Energy Project, in the Scottish Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Awards 2021. 

The organisation, which runs the UK’s biggest community-owned wind farm, the 9MW Beinn Ghrideag outside Stornoway, already has a number of awards and multiple nominations. 

However, this latest recognition has been particularly welcome due to the extremely challenging circumstances currently facing Point and Sandwick Trust (PST), and other island wind farms, caused by the break in the sub-sea power cable linking the Outer Hebrides to the mainland. 

In normal times, that cable allows power to flow between the islands and the National Grid, and makes it possible for PST to export and sell their generated power. However, the cable has not yet been replaced and the financial support from cable owner SSEN has been insufficient. 

Norman Mackenzie, chair of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “To be shortlisted for yet another prestigious award is fantastic for PST and is particularly uplifting news for everyone involved with our trust given the difficulties we are currently facing.

“From the onset of the current pandemic we resolved to direct all of our resources towards supporting local health workers and the most vulnerable in our community. Through the hard work of our staff and volunteers along with the support of our board via the magic of Zoom we were making a difference prior to the catastrophe of the cable break.”

Donald John MacSween, general manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are pleased to be nominated for this award, especially during what has been a really difficult time for Point and Sandwick Trust – first the Covid pandemic and then the SSE cable break last October, resulting in an immediate loss of income.

“We have done our level best to keep the PST community development activity and our core office functions operating. It has not been easy, and the delay in getting the cable replaced will continue to have a severe impact on our operation for the foreseeable future. However, we remain optimistic that once the cable is replaced and much-needed resilience is built into the inadequate grid system then we can restart our grant-making activity.”

The finals of the Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Awards will be held as an online event on Thursday, February 25 – another sign of our constrained times.

If successful, that award will go into PST’s trophy cabinet alongside its awards for Environmental Champion in NatWest’s Social Business Awards 2020; UK Environmental Social Enterprise Award, Scottish Environmental Social Enterprise Award and the Celebrating Communities Award at the Scottish Charity Awards – all in 2018 – and Best Community Project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in 2015.

The second annual Scottish Highlands and Islands Renewables Energy Awards aims to “celebrate the very best of the region’s green energy sector”, while also recognising the contribution that renewable energy makes to the Highlands and Islands economy. 

Point and Sandwick Trust is shortlisted for Best Community Energy Project alongside Westray Development Trust and BroomPower. 

The awards and the Scottish Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Conference, which precedes it, are both supported by legal firm Harper Macleod and Highlands News & Media.