Pupils take the helm at groundbreaking green project

Teaching pupils to manage their finances is an increasingly important part of the curriculum.

Students at a school in Dumfries and Galloway have an altogether tougher budgeting challenge: spending millions of pounds generated by two community-owned wind turbines.

A team of eight S5 and S6 pupils at Sanquhar Academy decides how to invest the profits from the turbines at Glenmuckloch Community Energy Park for the benefit of the local area.

A first in Scotland, the community energy park has been designed to provide financial assistance for public groups and organisations across Upper Nithsdale using the revenue produced by the two 100kW turbines on a site adjacent to the former Glenmuckloch surface mine.

Buccleuch is leasing the land to the project free of charge and together with mine operator Hargreaves provided additional funding for the purchase of the wind turbines.

The 30 meter high turbines have the potential to generate £2.5 million over the next 25 years, which will remain with Glenmuckloch Community Energy Park until distributed to local causes.

This task falls to the Glenmuckloch charitable purposes committee – known as Propel – which is run entirely by pupils from the school. They are actively encouraging local groups to make applications for funding.

The project was delivered by four key partners; Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, Buccleuch, Hargreaves and Dumfries and Galloway Council. Dumfries and Galloway Council and Buccleuch each contributed £50,000, Hargreaves £150,000 and SMRT £75,000.

The Glenmuckloch park was officially launched by business, energy and tourism secretary Fergus Ewing in July 2014. The wind turbines began operating in autumn 2015.

Emily Lockhart, Principal Teacher from Sanquhar Academy said: “This learning experience has been an incredibly motivating one for our pupils that has challenged and encouraged them in ways we couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of the journey.

“They have all gained in confidence which has been noted by their peers and other school staff. It has been a pleasure to watch their journey and see them operate effectively alongside the professionals and businesses they have worked with to achieve their aim.”

John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “We are now seeing the tangible benefits of a genuine collaborative effort. We are wholly committed to playing our part in delivering social, economic and environmental benefit to the local area as well as contributing to renewable energy provision in Scotland.”

Propel case study.