Community groups urged to tap into Hazlehead Wind Farm benefits fund

January 12, 2018 | Community News

(Front, from left) Steve Dobson and Cera O'Rourke, volunteer presenters at community radio station Penistone FM, which won funding from the Hazlehead fund to support a a year-long oral history project, along with (centre) Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group

Community groups, environmental projects and voluntary organisations in the areas around a South Yorkshire wind farm are being urged to apply for grants from a growing benefits fund that was specifically set up to support them.

As part of Banks Renewables’ development of the three-turbine Hazlehead wind farm, which sits to the west of Barnsley between the villages of Crow Edge and Carlecotes, a community benefits fund was set up to provide over £6,000 of community funding for local good causes every year.

Almost £39,000 has so far been directed into the fund since the wind farm began to generate green energy at the end of 2011, and a committee including representatives of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council and Dunford Parish meet every few months to decide how the money can best be allocated to meet local priorities.

Organisations that have so far received grants include St Anne’s Church in Carlecotes, Dunford Parish Community Association and community radio station Penistone FM.

But with around £12,000 currently sitting in the fund, and the next tranche of revenues due to paid in in the near future, Banks Renewables is now encouraging local people to investigate if their favourite group or good cause might be the next name to join the list of grantees.

Eligibility for funding is normally restricted to schemes within the parish of Dunford, but projects outside this area may be eligible if it can be shown that they benefit people living within it.

Applications to the Hazlehead wind farm community benefits fund can be submitted at any time, with the funding committee meeting every few months, and well over £150,000 is expected to be generated in total for the fund over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.

The condition of the old style organ at St Anne’s Church in Carlecotes had gradually worsened through regular use, and it had become too out of tune to play, but a £3,324 grant from the Hazlehead fund allowed for the repairs required to bring the organ back into use to be done.

The Revd David Hopkin, team rector of Penistone and Thurlstone Team Ministry, says: “After the organ finally became unusable, we’d resorted to using a small portable organ in its place, and even though the sound it made really didn’t fill the space as we wanted to, we would have had to muddle along with it for the foreseeable future if Banks Renewables hadn’t stepped in.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “The Hazlehead wind farm community benefits fund was set up to improve the range of facilities and opportunities to which local people had access, and we’ve been able to support some very interesting and impactful local projects over the last few years.

“With public funding remaining very hard to come by for many community groups, we’re keen to ensure that organisations in the areas around the wind farm which could benefit from the fund are aware of what’s available and are thinking about the sorts of projects they could take forward with our help.

“We would love to hear as many new ideas as possible about the ways in which this money can make even more of a long-term difference to the local area.”

Community groups or voluntary organisations looking for grant funding from the Hazlehead wind farm community benefits fund should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/development-with-care/bankscommunityfund/wind-farm-community-fund to check whether their project is eligible.

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