THE first steps have been taken to strike a deal for local community ownership of the proposed Bullington Cross wind farm.

Hampshire Energy Group (HEG), the local renewable energy co-operative, has now signed a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) with wind farm developer EDF Energy Renewables to confirm the joint intent of the parties and the principles of the proposed deal.

Under the terms of the MOU, the proposed Bullington Cross community share ownership scheme will give Hampshire Energy Group the option to purchase a revenue share of up to 10 per cent in the wind farm development on behalf of its co-operative members.

Funds generated by the wind farm stake will be used to pay an annual interest to members, with any surplus being reinvested by the cooperative in other local community owned renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Martin Heath, HEG spokesman, said: “This is a great step forward for community energy in Hampshire.

“This will give our local community the opportunity to invest in and benefit from wind farming.

“It’s the first time a community wind farm has been developed in Hampshire and will hopefully be the first of many community energy projects in the county.”

He added: “There is still a lot of discussion required with EDF Energy Renewables to complete the deal, but the MOU is an important step.”

The proposed Bullington Cross wind farm would comprise 14 turbines with a generating capacity of 28MW of low carbon electricity – equivalent to the average annual needs of about 15,150 households.

Earlier this year, EDF Energy Renewables submitted a planning application for the development site to Winchester City Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Test Valley Borough Council. A decision on the planning application should be reached in early 2014.

Darren Cuming, onshore wind development manager at EDF Energy Renewables, said: “The discussions with Hampshire Energy Group have been very positive and we are delighted to have reached this initial agreement.

“Negotiations will now continue to further develop the details of the ownership agreement.

“This is a potentially significant deal for us as a developer and for the county, and demonstrates the level of support locally for the project.

“I’m hopeful that we can work towards a final agreement that not only encourages positive local involvement in the scheme but also maximises the economic benefits of the project for the local community.”