Westmill Co-op was the first wind farm co-operative in the South of England which gave local people, as a matter of priority, and others, an opportunity to invest in the production of renewable energy.
The share prospectus was launched in November 2005 and the offer remained open until February 2006.
Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative Ltd is an Industrial & Provident Society based on the highly successful wind farm run in Cumbria by Baywind Energy Co-operative Ltd. The co-op has financed the purchase and construction of five wind turbines through a 4.6m fundraising campaign that saw the public able to buy shares in the project and was supplemented by a bank loan.
The Wind Farm involved the purchase, construction and 25 year operation of five wind turbines. The turbines are connected to an electricity sub-station on the site, from where the electricity generated is metered and sold. The wind farm started commercial generation in February 2008.
The share launch and project development was managed by Energy4All established to provide support to co-operative wind farm projects around the UK. The land owner is Adam Twine, an organic farmer with an interest in community and environmental issues, who secured the required planning consents.
Westmill was established to provide an opportunity for all who were concerned with the effects of climate change to become involved in the ownership and operation of a wind farm. It was especially, but not exclusively, aimed at groups and individuals local to the Wind Farm.
This was the first project of its kind in Southern England and its importance has been recognised by the award of a capital grant from South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). Westmill’s success has demonstrated that ordinary people can co-operate to achieve what politicians talk about.
Westmill Windfarm Co-op has over 2,000 members.
On 5th November 2004 Westmill won the award for Best Renewable Energy Initiative in the South East sponsored by the Countryside Agency, Government Office South East, South East England Development Agency, South East England Regional Assembly and Thames Valley Energy.
In 2012 a second cooperative was launched. The Westmill Solar Cooperative raised £16m to buy what is thought to be the world’s largest community owned solar project.