In the Garnock Valley corner of North Ayrshire, Radio City Association (RCA) is a small charity with a big ambition.
A longstanding community anchor organisation RCA was originally founded to regenerate the local landmark which bears its name, the Radio City building, we have since embarked upon a new mission entitled the “Electric Valley”.
The project has an aspiration of rejuvenating the post-industrial former steel area of the Garnock Valley through a grassroots community led holistic and far-reaching project. The Electric Valley involves the development of long-lasting community assets to promote clean and inclusive growth and produce the wealth of the community through ownership of renewable energy resources.
Specifically, the focus has developed a three megawatt wind turbine in the final stages of pre-construction and is due to be connected to the national grid in early 2024 as well as a small scale one megawatt run of river hydro scheme.
The revenues generated from the ownership of these projects by the community will enable long lasting and sustainable investment over the next several decades giving agency to a community that often feels forgotten to develop the capacity to change its fortunes for the better, creating a more resilient, robust and socially conscious economy not dependent on external or seemingly distant institutions.
The reinvestment strategy has been developed with several areas aims based on analysis of the needs and economic reality of the area. To place the project in context the Glasgow City Regional Deal is a plan for £1.015 billion of spending by the UK and Scottish Governments with additional local authority borrowing, covering a region with a population of 2.8 million people. This investment therefore equates to £36.25 per capita in additional spending.
The single community owned wind turbine RCA have developed will return a minimum £6 million based on lowest estimates of net investment into the Garnock Valley area with circa twenty-one thousand population resulting in an equivalent spending of £285 per capita.
This project we believe therefore has potential to transform the area and secure a just transition to net zero for a deprived community and face up to any other future challenges such as the fourth industrial revolution, the climate emergency, the ongoing cost of living crisis or health pandemics, supported by econometric modelling we have undertaken.
The Electric Valley encompasses a range of environmental objectives including promotion of sustainable mobility with RCA’s electric vehicle club including a car, van and e-bikes and electric mobility scooters to improve disabled access and promotion of active travel to create a 20-minute neighbourhood. This forms part of our overarching Garnock Valley trails project where we have also developed biodiversity with planting of around 2000 trees.
The reinvestment strategy also involves the community asset transfer of the Knox Institute building a vestige of Victorian era philanthropy and a vital part of the areas cultural identity. We currently have our mobility hub based in the building with the next stage in development a community café with the ambition to create a social enterprise hub with co-working and fab-lab facilities as well as development of a Credit Union and Housing Association. In addition we are currently engaged in a range of cost of living activities including delivery of energy efficiency improvements for households in the area.