Annex 4: Local Energy and Shared Ownership Projects
Soirbheas is a registered charity working to strengthen and support the communities of Glen Urquhart and Strathglass through revenues from local renewable energy schemes. It is well resourced, employing a team of staff, and with the capacity required for developing and delivering projects and grant programmes.
Since April 2014, Soirbheas has awarded over £500,000 in grant funding to community projects, benefiting over fifty local groups, organisations and charities in Glen Urquhart and Strathglass. Community benefit and shared ownership of nearby windfarms, and the management of funds available, has enabled the charity to act quickly and flexibly to support the needs of the local community.
Through its grant programmes, it is enabling other local organisations to take forward low carbon projects, such as the Glenurquhart Centre. In addition to supporting community projects, Soirbheas helps fund apprenticeships and has also set up two new funds in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19): an employee training fund and a community support fund. It is also committed to encouraging local food production to support and reduce food waste. Funds have also been used to invest in projects that build community resilience, such as the Glens Community Larder and Wild Foraging Trees.
The Old Luce Community Fund
The Old Luce Community Fund was established by Old Luce Community Council in 2016 and up to until October 2020, £849,088.50 had been awarded for projects to benefit the community. The Fund supports projects located within, or directly benefiting, the Old Luce Community Council area, including the communities of Glenluce, Dunragit and Auchenmalg. It receives and manages community benefit from wind farm development companies such as ScottishPower Renewables (Kilgallioch Wind Farm) and RES (Glenchamber Wind Farm). Access to the Fund has enabled a number of significant projects to be taken forward, which empower communities and strengthen the local economy including:
- Balkail Glen, an amenity wood well used by residents and with potential for small-scale wood fuel. The Fund has supported costs to transfer ownership of the wood and develop a management plan.
- A derelict site at 21 Main Street, Glenluce, a former shop which was demolished. The Fund has been utilised to purchase the site and re-develop it as a small public park with seating and a noticeboard.
- Brambles, a former café in Glenluce's main street, which closed some years ago leaving the community without anywhere to meet and socialise during the day. The Fund provided match funding for a successful bid to the Scottish Land Fund and is supporting the refurbishment of the property.
- The new village square, an unused gap site, which has been transformed into an attractive, tranquil public space with lighting, wooden benches and a covered pergola.
- A path has been created along the old railway line between Dunragit and Glenluce route linking the two villages.
The Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company
Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC) funded by ScottishPower Renewables community benefit fund for Harestanes Windfarm, in Dumfries and Galloway. ANCBC distributes the Harestanes Community Benefit Fund. The Fund supports rural regeneration and local community sustainability-focused charitable activities in Annandale & Nithsdale, and builds resilience to climate change risks in the area. Since opening in Spring 2015, the ANCBC fund has awarded almost £2 million to projects across the 42 community council areas that make up its area of benefit. The Spring 2022 round of awards saw over £66,000 being distributed to local projects.
The Fund has supported a diverse range of projects including community transport provision, play parks, distribution of food parcels, local sports clubs, walking groups, music events, nature projects, support for disadvantaged community members, projects to help people with mental and physical disabilities, youth support, and local galas and shows.
One of the largest grants (£49,998), was awarded to Mossburn Community Farm in January 2016 over a three-year period, to provide equine therapies for people living with mental and physical disabilities.
Since the Fund launched, ANCBC has supported 31 such community facilities across the area of benefit, with just over £380,000 distributed. These projects included new builds, maintenance, kitchen refurbishments, heating upgrades, accessibility improvements, extensions, flood prevention, replacement windows and doors, solar panels, pathways and parking facilities.
The Strathnairn Community Benefit Fund
Strathnairn Community Benefit Fund (SCBF) was set up in 2004 to receive and distribute community benefit payments from the developer of the Farr Windfarm, Npower UK (now owned by Ventient Energy) and the Farr Hydro Scheme. The key purpose of SCBF is to manage the funds and to distribute grants to support the urban or rural regeneration in areas of social and economic deprivation, in particular in the Strathnairn Community Council area.
SCBF has funded projects, including: community transport provision, after school activities for children, and running costs for community halls. It has also provided grants to make homes of residents more energy efficient, install renewables, and to help residents pay their fuel bills through The Energy Grant, which was introduced in 2015.
In 2018, SCBF committed to making a number of large capital grants from accumulated reserves to address strategic priorities that had been identified through community surveys and conversations. These priorities include supporting a community broadband initiative and major refurbishments of community halls. In the financial year to August 2021, SCBF distributed £56,990 to local projects.
Crossdykes Wind Farm
Crossdykes Wind Farm is a 48MW onshore wind power project, developed by Muirhall Energy and located in Dumfries and Galloway. Construction commenced in 2019, with completion and commercial operation from 2021. Crossdykes Wind Farm is the first example in Scotland where the community have a share in a subsidy-free wind farm. It will also deliver £7,000 per MW in community benefit fund payments each year, leading the way in developer-led community investments.
Muirhall Energy's Community Shared Ownership scheme, with the local community taking a five percent stake in the project, will ensure a significant income and is the largest community investment in renewables since 2017. Residents local to Crossdykes Wind Farm will also benefit from an annual pot of £322,000, amounting to £8 million over the lifetime of the project.
In addition, an Initial Investment Fund of £100,000 supported 32 community projects. During the construction phase, the services of 18 local businesses in the area were sought, bringing £3.4 million into the local economy. During the development and construction of the Crossdykes Wind Farm, Muirhall generated:
- £1.7 million GVA and supported 21 years of employment in the local area,
- £3.8 million GVA and 50 years of employment across Dumfries and Galloway, and
- £17.5 million GVA and 238 years of employment within Scotland.
The structure of Crossdykes community shared ownership is an approach which Muirhall are committed to replicating in other projects with shared ownership opportunities.
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