An Alloa business is calling on landowners and communities to help identify derelict land that could be transformed into areas that generate affordable energy and create new revenue streams.
Having been instrumental in setting up the ground-breaking Smart Fintry project, which enables locally produced green energy to be sold cheaply to the community, Veitch Cooper is looking to replicate the project’s success throughout Scotland.
The company, which has been helped by Business Gateway Clackmannanshire, is also using the project to inspire Denny High School pupils, highlighting the important role science, technology, engineering and maths all play in community energy projects.
Catherine Cooper of Veitch Cooper, which is based in Alloa Business Centre, said: “There is derelict land all over Scotland and although some inroads have been made to transform it since the 80s there is still a lot lying unused. Often these pockets of land are at the heart of a local community and research has shown how these eyesores can erode a sense of place. Our aim is to contact landowners and community groups who have identified areas, whether it be a disused mine or an abandoned industrial site, and work with them to develop and install an energy system that will generate affordable energy around which the local community can build an economic hub to open up additional revenue streams.”
Having started her electrical and electronic engineering career with British Aerospace, Catherine became a tutor at the University of Cambridge where she focused on design, manufacture and management.
After returning to Scotland to raise her children, she worked for a range of engineering companies, latterly with SSE Plc. When she opted for voluntary redundancy in 2014 she turned to Business Gateway Clackmannanshire to help her launch Veitch Cooper.
Currently Catherine works with a number of associates including an economist, social scientist and a thermal design engineer but, with her Business Gateway adviser’s help, she is now investigating the possibility of taking on permanent staff.
She said: “I went to Business Gateway straight after leaving SSE and my adviser helped structure my thoughts into a feasible business plan. I was then accepted onto the Growth Pipeline. Through the programme I’ve benefitted from a strategic review that has helped me commercialise my ideas, Intellectual Property support that has made me think about the business’ future and I’ve been assigned a mentor who is expanding my understanding of financing community projects. Without Business Gateway I wouldn’t have accessed any of that support, which has saved me time and money and has been instrumental in helping me move my business forward.”
Alison Davidson, Business Gateway said: “Right from the start Catherine has used our expertise to turn her ideas into a commercial entity then grow it into a business at the forefront of energy and regeneration. Being accepted onto the Growth Pipeline has, most recently, given her access to specialist support that will help her make important decisions on the structure of her business moving forward.”
Three years ago Fintry Development Trust (FDT) approached Veitch Cooper looking to sell local renewable energy cheaply to homes and businesses in the town. Using Veitch Cooper’s expertise and contacts the group then began the ground-breaking project to demonstrate the benefits of a local energy economy.
Catherine said: “Our main role in all of the projects we’re involved in is to connect the dots, using our expertise and knowledge to problem solve. In Fintry, we undertook a feasibility study that helped the group identify how to achieve their goals and identified the right organisations and people that would allow them to successfully deliver the project. Another project we are working on is in Wishaw where we are working with a landowner to help provide energy to the local community using water that has built up in interconnected mine shafts.”
To find out if Veitch Cooper could help you transform derelict land for the benefit of your local community email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01259 726672 or visit www.veitchcooper.com.
To find out how Business Gateway Clackmannanshire can help your business call 01259 208426 or visit www.bgateway.com/clackmannanshire.