About Westray Development Trust

Our mission is to develop the economic, social, and cultural sustainability of our community by harnessing the quality of our resources people and island environment.

Westray Development Trust is a company limited by guarantee (SC201004) and a registered charity (SC029471).  Membership is open to any person over the age of 18 whose main residence is Westray.  Board members are elected by the members of the trust at the AGM.

The charitable objectives of the trust are;

  1. To provide in the interests of social welfare, facilities for recreation and other leisure time occupation available to the public at large in Westray with a view to improving their conditions of life.
  2. To advance education and in particular to promote opportunities for learning for the benefit of the general public.
  3. To protect and/or preserve the environment for the benefit of the general public.
  4. To provide or assist in the provision of housing for people in necessitous circumstances within Westray.
  5. To relieve poverty particularly among the residents of the island of Westray.
  6. To advance the arts, heritage, culture and science.
  7. To relieve those in need by reason of age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage (includes relief given by the provision of accommodation and care).
  8. To regenerate the community of Westray by the maintenance or improvement of the physical, social and economic infrastructure.
  9. To promote, establish, operate and/or support other schemes and projects of a charitable nature for the benefit of the community of Westray.

Westray Development Trust also wholly owns the trading subsidiary Westray Renewable Energy Ltd, which is the company that manages the 900kW community wind turbine. This turbine is the primary income source for the Trust.

Source: Highlands & Islands Enterprise

What is a Development Trust?

Development Trusts are community organisations which:

  • are owned and managed by the local community
  • aim to achieve the sustainable regeneration of a community or address a range of economic, social,environmental and cultural issues within a community
  • are independent but seek to work in partnership with other private, public and third sector organisations
  • aim to attract inward investment via grants, etc. and where possible to generate income. Trading surpluses are principally reinvested in the organisation or the community.

Our History

The push to establish Westray Development Trust came from the 1998 Westray Conference.

From 2nd to 4th October 1998, Westray played host to a major conference in which the future of the island was discussed.  The background was the falling population of the islands, decreasing numbers of jobs available to school leavers, and the falling roll of the school.  The conference looked at new ways of harnessing local talents, developing new businesses, and providing a place where people wanted to stay and work.  A large team was involved from the planning and organising right through to the actual event itself.  Nearly 100 delegates from outside Westray gave of their time, experience and expertise, contributing to workshops and as keynote speakers and there was a huge response from the local community.  The opening session on the Friday evening attracted over 350 people.  During the day, the school held a series of events including a full School Conference with 45 pupils attending.  Workshops throughout the weekend included: Residential Home/Westray Care Centre; Transport; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Tourism; Arts, Crafts and Knitwear; Agriculture; Education and Training; Information Technology; Industry and Business start-up; Youth and Children; Voluntary sector; Westray Housing.

When the dust settled on this memorable weekend, there remained a feeling of optimism on the island, as the hard work began.  There was a strong sense of resolve within the community to work together and see many of the ideas generated at the conference come to fruition. 

The Westray Development Trust was then formed in 1999, and the first local development plan was agreed and published.

By 2005, when the first wave of development projects had been completed, Directors realised that if they were to be able to continue the work of the charitable trust and keep on employing staff, they would need to secure sustainable income for the Trust. The groundbreaking decision to pursue community ownership of a wind turbine led Westray Development Trust to have one of the first big community-owned wind projects to be commissioned in 2009. Charities have restrictions on trading, and also need to ensure that risks from trading are kept separate from the charity, so the first of the Trust’s trading subsidiaries, Westray Renewable Energy Ltd, was set up to manage the wind turbine.

In 2012 a second trading subsidiary was set up as a community interest company. Westray Enterprise CIC was set up to take on projects that weren’t considered ‘primary purpose trading’ with the intention of using this company to further economic development projects for Westray and return profits to Westray Development Trust. However, a review in 2014 led to the Board of Westray Development Trust taking the decision to dissolve the company which was completed in October 2015.