Thousands of pounds of new funding is set to be made available to groups and good causes in the communities around a new wind farm near Darlington.
Banks Renewables, part of The Banks Group, will provide £750,000 of community funding over the 25-year lifespan of its new Moor House wind farm, which is currently being built on land to the north east of Barmpton, around three miles to the east of the A1.
And with the wind farm due to start generating both green energy – and thus money for its community benefits fund – early in the new year, the County Durham-headquartered firm is now inviting local people to put forward ideas on where the first grants might be directed.
Around £30,000 will be generated by the wind farm for its community fund every year, with half being made available to local community groups, environmental projects and voluntary organisations, and the other half going towards initiatives supporting local employment, vocational training, apprenticeship schemes, tourism and rural diversification.
A further one-off £50,000 allocation is being ring-fenced for energy efficiency and micro-renewables projects for community buildings within the area around the wind farm.
A funding committee made up of community representatives has been set up to help ensure the money is spent in ways which meet local priorities, with Cllr Brian Jones of Darlington Borough Council being appointed as committee chair.
Other members including local councillors Norman Melaney, Lorraine Tostevin, Marilyn Heath and Sue Bell.
Eligibility for funding is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities at Sadberge, Bishopton, East & West Newbiggin, Bishopton, Little Stainton, Great Stainton, Great Burdon, Barmpton, Brafferton, and areas of Whinfield, Harrogate Hill, Beaumont Hill and Coatham Mundeville which are north of the A1150 and east of the A167.
Projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.
The maximum grant available per project is likely to be £3,000, although applications for higher amounts will be considered in special circumstances, and funding applications can be submitted at any time, with the committee meeting every few months to consider them.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, says: “Public funding remains difficult to come by for many community groups, and the money available from the Moor House fund will make a big difference to the facilities and activities that local people are able to access for years to come.
“Involving community representatives in making funding decisions will help us to ensure we provide support to those projects which meet local priorities, and we’re now keen to start hearing from as many different local groups as we can, so we can start to make a positive contribution to local community groups as soon as funding becomes available.
“Modern, efficient, indigenous onshore wind farms generate safe, clean and sustainable energy, while also offering the cheapest available form of renewable energy production, and we’re looking to seeing Moor House beginning to generate funds for the local community early in the new year.”
The Moor House wind farm fund will be independently administered by the County Durham Community Foundation. Projects, community groups, or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from it should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 or visit http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/banks-community-fund/
For further information on the Moor House project, please visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/moor-house