The community benefits fund linked to a Darlington wind farm has been opened up to help support local community initiatives responding to the coronavirus crisis.
The Moor House wind farm fund is usually restricted to supporting capital expenditure projects for groups and good causes in the immediate surrounding area.
But in response to the impact of the pandemic, operator Banks Renewables and the County Durham Community Foundation which administers the fund have agreed with the local grants panel to temporarily relax the eligibility criteria and extend the area within which grants can be made.
And after working with local councillors to identify the most appropriate projects to support, grants worth a total of £6,000 have been quickly approved and paid over to four local projects.
A £1,500 grant has been given to Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington to help fund their provision of food parcels to vulnerable and elderly local people across the area, while the same amount has been donated to support the work of the food bank at the Kings Church on Prospect Place in Darlington.
Further £1,500 grants have been given to the 700 Club, which provides temporary accommodation and support services to vulnerable individuals, families and couples who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless and/or are in condition of need, hardship or distress, and to The Bread and Butter Thing, a food redistribution charity which launched its first North East hub in Darlington just last month.
Darlington Borough Councillor Brian Jones, who chairs the Moor House wind farm funding committee, says: “It’s excellent news that Banks Renewables has seen fit to support these charities in such difficult times.
“These are unprecedented times and charities need all the support they can gather. I’m sure the money will be appreciated by both the charities and the people they support.’
Banks Renewables’ Moor House wind farm will generate more than £750,000 of local community funding over its 25-year lifespan and has been operational since the start of 2018.
It generates over 36,470 MW of green electricity every year, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of more than 9,350 homes, and by doing so, displaces almost 12,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network per annum.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The Moor House fund is designed to bring direct, long-term benefits to local communities, and in this unprecedented time of need, we felt it only right to step up and do as much as we can to support the local community where it’s most needed.
“These community groups are all doing invaluable work in supporting the most vulnerable members of the community and we’re proud to be able to contribute towards what each one is achieving.