New windfarm fund is up and running

Pete Barrett, senior programme advisor at the Community Foundation.
Pete Barrett, senior programme advisor at the Community Foundation.

A grants programme totalling £183,500 will be allocated to community projects in Northumberland over the next year.

Following the installation of two neighbouring windfarms near Widdrington, the Sisters and North Steads Community Benefit Fund has been established.

Managed by the Community Foundation Tyne and Wear and Northumberland on behalf of Ventient Energy, it will make a payment of £133,500 in annual benefit – with an extra £50,000 being made available in the first year for local projects and good causes.

The nine-turbine North Steads Windfarm, located on the site of a restored former open-cast coal mine at Maiden’s Hall and Steadsburn, and the four-turbine Sisters Windfarm became operational in November.

The projects will continue to provide annual funding to the local area of £133,500, index linked, for an expected 25-year lifetime.

Scott Mackenzie, CEO of Ventient Energy, said: “Renewable energy is a force for good both locally and globally.

“It is Ventient Energy’s aim always to be a good long-term neighbour in communities around our windfarms and we work with landowners and communities through community funding to help them deliver local projects to meet their specific needs.

“We are delighted that the community fund is now open for business and confident that it will make an impact on many worthwhile projects in the local area throughout the next 25 years.”

Grants of £500 to £10,000 are available for projects of up to one year’s duration.

Applications are open to constituted voluntary and community groups and charities, start-up social enterprises, parish councils and other public bodies for non-statutory purposes and priority will be given to applications from organisations and individuals based within a 5km radius of the two windfarms.

The fund is particularly interested in helping projects that meet eight priorities identified through consultation with local residents.

They are as follows: advice and support for families; arts, culture and heritage projects; community activities and events; development of local amenities; education and training provision; healthy living activities; environmental projects; sport and physical activity provision.

Pete Barrett, senior programme advisor at the Community Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to work with Ventient Energy to ensure that this community benefit fund can go further to help projects in and around the Widdrington area.”

For more information about the Sisters and North Steads Community Benefit Fund, or to apply for funding, visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply