SE100 2020 Environmental Champion: Point and Sandwick Trust

The Environmental Champion award – the very first time we've included such a category in the SE100 –  goes to organisations doing pioneering work in the social enterprise space with a focus on environmental issues.

“That’s made my week!” said Calum Macdonald, development manager at Point and Sandwick Trust, when Pioneers Post called to share the news of the enterprise’s SE100 win. 

The UK’s biggest community-owned wind farm, whose three turbines stand majestically on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, not only helps the UK to reduce its CO2 emissions, but also supports local environmental projects with the income from the electricity that it generates.

Since it opened in 2016, it has given out more than £1m in donations and grants. The organisation is helping to tackle fuel poverty in local households by improving their insulation and energy efficiency – a vital step to take in a cold, wet and windy environment and, to date, more than 5,000 LED light bulbs have been connected in more than 500 homes. These alone save each household around £100 a year.

The Trust is working with the Woodland Trust to plant hundreds of thousands of trees across the Hebrides, and is also exploring the potential for local ferries to be fuelled by hydrogen rather than traditional polluting fossil fuels. 

The SE100 judges were impressed by Point and Sandwick Trust's “incredible” projects which create “such tangible impact”

The SE100 judges agreed that Point and Sandwick Trust was “a clear winner” in this category, as a “well-structured, impactful organisation serving the local community on a range of social and environmental fronts”. They also noted the organisation’s focus outside its immediate locality towards the wider Hebridean islands, and were impressed by its “incredible” projects which create “such tangible impact”. 

While the wind hasn’t stopped blowing, the wholesale price of electricity has plummeted since the markets were hit by the covid-19 crisis. Fortunately, the Trust negotiated a floor price in its electricity sales contract which, Macdonald says, is now ‘a godsend’, keeping a minimum level of income flowing. The trust has temporarily suspended its normal operations and has redirected all of its uncommitted income into a new Pandemic Community Support Fund which is currently paying for the production of free visors for care home staff, hardship funds for local residents and a donation to NHS Western Isles.

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