ScottishPower Renewables (SPR), one of the UK’s leading developers in wind power energy, has now donated over £15 million of funding to assist local communities in the areas where it operates.
The funding, which is generated by SPR’s operational windfarm sites, is distributed locally via local councils, community councils and dedicated wind farm trusts set up to empower communities to decide how this money is spent to best serve the needs of their local area.
SPR has projects in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with many located in rural areas where funding for community projects is typically less widely available. The community benefit funds provided by SPR wind farms support a wide range of schemes and organisations across the UK: from local construction projects and education schemes to community services and local events.
Keith Anderson, Chief Executive of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “As a responsible developer of renewable energy, ScottishPower Renewables strives to be a good neighbour in all aspects of its work. The funds generated by our windfarms are an invaluable resource for local communities and it is fantastic to have reached the £15m milestone. We are proud to be able to offer our support, particularly in areas where funding for community projects is often hard to come by.
“Onshore wind power is a vital part of the UK’s future energy provision and we are delighted to work with local groups to see wider community benefits being delivered alongside low carbon electricity.”
One of the most recent communities to have benefited from SPR’s community benefit fund programme is Barrhill, a small village in South Ayrshire, which was able to access over £220,000 to establish a new fully equipped community park.
The funding, which was allocated by the Barrhill Community Interest Company, paid for the purchase of the land and all construction and planning costs for the project. The park was designed by HAGS SMP Playgrounds, one of Europe’s leading designers of children’s play parks, and the design was selected at an open day attended by 40 local people.
The new Arnsheen Community Park features an open air stage, various items of play equipment, a games arena and an outdoor classroom which are already being used by Barrhill Primary School. Following a successful opening in July, it is hoped the area will quickly become a community hub for local families.
A further £150,000 of SPR community benefit funding was used for the construction of a much needed car park in Barrhill.
Philip Porter, Chairperson of the Barrhill Community Interest Company, said: “We are extremely proud to have the new Arnsheen Community Park open after months of planning. It’s a brilliant design and I’m sure families in the area will love it. This is a truly community-led project made possible with funding from ScottishPower Renewables.”
SPR community benefit funds raised by its wind farm sites are also being used to fund education programmes for local people. In Argyll and Bute, local communities are benefiting from a new Education and Skills Development role, a post which is being funded by community benefit money associated with SPR’s Beinn an Tuirc wind farm and delivered by the Argyll Lomond and Islands Energy Agency (ALIEnergy).
The commitment of more than £100,000 made by SPR over three years will support the role which will work with school pupils and community groups across Argyll and Bute to generate interest and promote careers in the renewables sector and focus on broadening and strengthening the skills base locally as well as promoting employability skills and preparing school leavers for local opportunities.
Kirsty Jackson-Stark, Education and Skills Development, ALIenergy, said: “I am excited about this new role as it provides the opportunity to work in partnership with key local agencies to inspire young people and the community about renewable energy. It also delivers and facilitates opportunities for young people and the local community to obtain skills enabling them to take up employment opportunities within the renewables sector.”