Local people and places across the UK have now benefited from ScottishPower Renewables community funding to the tune of more than £50 million thanks to the power of wind.
The funding – provided through dedicated Community Benefit Funds at 36 onshore windfarms from Wick to the West Country – puts money directly into the hands of local communities and empowers them to allocate the funds in the way that will have the greatest impact locally.
Collectively, the windfarms produce enough clean, green electricity to power millions of homes every year, with the funding extending the benefits of these projects far beyond their positive environmental impact.
To date, the £50 million has helped create community facilities and bring disused buildings back to life, boost rural transport services and enable people to get around for work and leisure, support environmental improvements and provide employment opportunities, deliver education programmes and skills development to enhance career opportunities, fund net zero initiatives and help grow heritage and tourism – and much, much more.
The one thing they all have in common is that the priorities for the windfarm funds and how they are spent are all set locally by those who know best what will make the most difference for them.
Barry Carruthers, Onshore Managing Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: “At ScottishPower, making a difference for people and communities is at the heart of everything we do. I’m really proud that we don’t only power our communities – we empower them too – and it’s amazing to see the variety of projects our funding is supporting.
“It is, in many cases, able to bring about real change and shows the incredible added value our funding can bring to local projects. They are genuinely creating a legacy on many levels and that’s testament to our way of working, which is all about being a good neighbour and helping us all enjoy a better future, quicker.”
Gillian Arnot, Senior Community Liaison Officer, added: “One of the most exciting elements of how we work with our local communities is that we’re here from start to finish – for 20 years-plus – so we get to see the tangible outcomes of our funding first-hand. Whether that’s young people starting work after being inspired by the education programmes we fund, improving accessibility to local facilities, or creating usable and sustainable community spaces – every penny and pound of that £50 million really counts.
“And, what’s even more exciting, is that there’s still lots more to come as our community benefit funds will top £100 million over the operational life of our windfarms. I can’t wait to see what our communities will do next!”
Frances Dickman, Treasurer of Oxton Dunlaw Windfarm, said: “Numerous village organisations and groups would have ceased had it not been for the great support Dunlaw Windfarm provides. These groups play a very important part in rural village life, providing villagers a place to meet and socialise.”
Sheena Boyd, Business and Development Manager at New Cumnock Development Trust, which receives funds from Hare Hill windfarm said: “SPR’s funds mean that people across demographics in New Cumnock are able to continue taking part in social, educational and wellbeing-relatedactivities; projects have been delivered which value New Cumnock’s heritage and connect local people; and assets and facilities have been secured for the community.”
Neale McQuistin, Chair of New Luce Community Council, said: "The substantial regular income from the Kilgallioch Community Fund has given our community the confidence to take on large capital projects like the renovation of our local hotel.
“Our community now owns the building and it is, once again, the standout feature in the main street. Once reopened the hotel will also sustain another family that will run the business and create other part time jobs for local people.
"It has been quite noticeable that young people are now starting to move into the area when a house becomes vacant. New Luce is thankfully starting to become a place where young people come to live rather than a place where older folk go to retire. Windfarming is undoubtedly breathing new life into our small community here in the Luce Valley."
Community Benefit Fund examples
- Supporting New Luce Community Trust to purchase the local hotel within the village which was in a very bad state of repair and has since undergone a major renovation to create a new glass panelled restaurant, a snug bar, three letting bedrooms and owners/tenants accommodation. The project led to three local apprenticeships and the creation of several new jobs.
- The purchase and renovation of a new community shop and post office which employs local people and provides a valuable service within the community in Carradale, East Kintyre.
- Providing Galloway Mountain Rescue Team with monies towards the costs of purchasing a new 4x4 rescue vehicle to support the continued service of keeping locals and visitors safe.
- Working with schools and communities, Argyll & Bute Council and ALIenergy (Argyll, Lomond & the Islands Energy Agency) to deliver an Education and Skills Development Programme that encourages and facilitates young people to seek careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related sectors.
- Funding for Food Train to replace and maintain delivery vans providing meals and shopping for elderly residents across Annandale & Eskdale and Nithsdale.
- Funding for the Whitelee Countryside Rangers who work to promote responsible access within the windfarm; install and maintain recreational furniture and signage; and also host free events throughout the year.
- Funding to help unlock investment for three Passivhaus homes in Dumfries & Galloway, which provide a high level of comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling.
- Funding to Carrick Gardening Club to develop a space to grow veg to sustain the community, including supplying the local foodbank and others in hardship.