Tide of criticism over Infinis stock flotation

HERMITAGE CASTLE , NEAR NEWCASTLETON , SCOTTISH BORDERS.'     PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
HERMITAGE CASTLE , NEAR NEWCASTLETON , SCOTTISH BORDERS.' PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL

Local campaigners battling wind farms planned by Infinis, say this week’s stock flotation proves dividends are being prioritised over communities.

Private equity firm Terra Firma this week laid out plans to float the renewable energy firm on the London stock exchange, valuing its equity stake at £1billion.

Infinis has proposals for several projects in the Borders, including controversial schemes for Windy Edge, near Hermitage Castle, and Cummings Hill, near Jedburgh.

Philip Kerr, from Chesters Wind Farm Action Group, says the stock market flotation of Infinis comes at an interesting time given the current debate about electricity bills and the green levy.

“Of the £226million in revenues generated by renewables such as onshore wind in 2013 by Infinis, around £115m comes from the renewable incentive element,” explained Mr Kerr. “The company has indicated a proforma annual dividend of £55m to be paid to shareholders, which would then grow in line with inflation.

“But Infinis has not been so generous in its discussions on community benefit with the community liaison groups, either at Windy Edge , or at Cummings Hill.

“Despite the Scottish Government ‘guidance’ of £5,000 per installed MW, which has been indicated as the going rate, Infinis are only prepared to offer £3,500 per installed MW, claiming that ‘there was not enough money in the kitty’, and the level was set centrally.

“Having seen the projected dividend payments of £55m, which will be indexed going forward in line with inflation, that is clearly nonsense.

“At a time when the role and support of the community in such projects is being encouraged by the Scottish Government, the fact the developer clearly commits to substantial projected dividend payments to shareholders, whilst leaving local communities with a ‘substandard’ benefit indicates the company’s priorities.

“Not only is the Infinis scheme at Cummings Hill likely to be the most constrained from a planning perspective, the developer has also treated the community with the least recognition and respect amongst the surrounding developers.”