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Wind farm operators to fund communities' recovery

Communities across Scotland are using cash from wind farms to help them cope through the coronavirus crisis.

Wind farm developers across the country pay out almost £21 million a year in community benefit payments for local projects but some of the cash is now being used as part of the response to the virus.

Foundation Scotland, the organisation that administers around 60 community benefit funds, has already held talks with community representatives on about 20 of those to see how the money can help. In Lewis, community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust has announced it will use all of its cash for this year to set up a pandemic support fund for the local community.

Community Energy Scotland, which co-owns a 7.5 megawatt wind farm near Cockburnspath with Berwickshire Housing Association, is now working with a newly established volunteer action group to provide emergency grants to local families in hardship.

Its development manager, Jamie Adam, said: “We have been humbled by the reaction of local communities to the coronavirus emergency and are delighted to be able to help, if only in a small way.”

He said they are diverting some of the cash £40,000 of funding they receive “to provide emergency grants to local families who might be experiencing hardship or redundancy”.

Mr Adam added: “This is a great opportunity for renewable energy projects to provide direct action on a pressing local issue, and we’d love to see more wind farm owners following suit.”

Rachel Searle, head of communities at Foundation Scotland, said: “The ethos of community benefit funding is that it is spent on issues which matter locally, and the current emergency has really brought that to the fore for people.”

Claire Mack, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Almost £21 million in community benefit payments is given to communities across Scotland every year and this unprecedented response to the coronavirus pandemic shows how industry and communities can work together on the issues which really matter.”

Published in Insider -