“We’re hoping to support a whole new range of community organisations who have previously not been able to access the fund.”
In response to the current cost-of-living crisis, grants from the benefits fund linked to Leeds’ first wind farm are now being made even more widely available to community groups and environmental projects working in its vicinity.
As part of Banks Renewables’ development of the Hook Moor wind farm, which sits near the junction of the M1 and A1, a community benefits fund was set up to provide around £250,000 of community funding for local good causes over the scheme’s 25-year lifespan.
Now grants of up to £3,000 are available not only for capital community or environmental projects but for revenue projects, which include the kind of regular running costs that are proving especially challenging for many organisations at this time. In addition, the fund can now provide the 10% deposit that was previously required from the applicant.
Over £74,000 has so far been directed into the fund since the wind farm began to generate green energy at the end of 2015, with an independent committee including representatives of Leeds City Council, Aberford Parish Council and Micklefield Residents Association working to distribute grants in ways which best meet local priorities.
Grants totalling over £40,000 have been made over the last six years, with Banks Renewables temporarily relaxing the fund’s eligibility criteria to enable more community groups to access support from it.
Cllr James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, says: “I’m pleased that the Hook Moor Wind Farm fund is responding to the needs of local communities at these times and making funds available to support projects that help local people and events that bring communities together.”
Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Many community groups are currently experiencing financial hardship so in agreement with our Hook Moor liaison committee we reassessed this fund’s eligibility criteria to open it up to more local projects and to make it more accessible.
“By opening it up to revenue projects, such as funding events, activities or project running costs, as well as capital projects, like building or refurbishing a community venue, we’re hoping to support a whole new range of community organisations who have previously not been able to access the fund.
“The Hook Moor fund is designed to bring tangible, long-term benefits to local communities and it’s been a great pleasure to see the range of projects that we’ve been able to support over the last six years.”
Organisations that have previously received grants include Aberford Bowling Club, the Friends of Micklefield School and playgroup charity Methley Mites, while funding has also been provided recently for Covid-related projects being run by the Neighbourhood Elders Team (NET) in Garforth, Micklefield Tenants & Residents Association and the Church Fenton Community Shop.
Eligibility is normally restricted to projects and activities within Aberford and Micklefield, with a maximum grant of £3,000 available, but projects outside these areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within them.
Grant applications can be submitted at any time, with the funding committee meeting regularly to review new grant requests.
The five-turbine Hook Moor wind farm generated more than 23,665 MWh of green electricity in the 12 months up to the end of December 2021, which is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of around 7,633 homes, and by doing so, displaced over 5,983 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network.