A large turnout tonight up at Cawdor All the spaces were taken up in the car park and folk had to park creatively. The meeting actually took place in the main school hall as the community centre room would have been too small and it looked pretty full anyway with a Fisheries meeting under way. The subject awaiting debate inside - how best to form a Trust to manage the £60,000 per annum that the community will receive from the Tom nan Clach wind farm from 2019 onwards.
Fiona Milligan representing Infinergy sat up on a slightly raised platform with Sandy Park in the chair and on his left his colleague from the Auldearn Trust Will Downie. Fiona did the introduction, outlining the purpose of the meeting and the necessity of forming a Trust to deal with the money that will be coming to the community.
This was the first step in the community forming whatever type of body they feel appropriate to administer the cash windfall that will come their way in future years. Legislation excludes the community council from running such a fund so something has to be worked out and set up by a seperate body. The money can be spent on anything the community wishes apart from three areas of that will be excluded from the terms of the deal and they are anti-wind farm campaigning, religious bodies and political campaigns. There was some discussion later on on whether that would exclude say a church building that provides a venue for community groups – there will be clarification about that at a future meeting. So into the realms of the benefits of a development trust or an organisation limited by public guarantee – echoes there of the early days of NICE when there was much debate of how to make the first steps.
The meeting heard about the successful Auldearn Trust that enjoys a cross over membership of many of the community council members in the village. A problem that can emerge is that people come to the fund with ideas and expect the fund to oraginise them but really it is a fund's job to simply give out the cash to “oven-ready” projects and not to do the work on things that could need planning and other permissions etc. A very good range of advice dispensed from the top table by Sandy and Will and some very good interventions from the floor too. Also the experiences of the Davidson Trust were touched upon by Iain Bain who was at the meeting in his Leopold Street capacity.
Just what type of trust do you need to meet the modern changing circumstances that include ongoing community empowerment measures and land reform possibilities, and the trials and tribulations of seeking "matching funding"? Then there are the “planning gain” opportunities that can occur as in Auldearn where £6,000 found it's way into community coffers from development in Auldearn. Someone pointed out that Delnies is in the Cawdor and West Nairnshire area and there could be development there in the future.
So a successful initial meeting and more bones and perhaps bit of flesh to put on the way forward at the next meeting. There seems to be massive interest and folk there in the hall perhaps with some of the relevant skills to take it all forward and help a Trust materialise. And then it was tea, coffee and cakes and a bit of a blether before everyone set off into the cool Cawdor night.