Kype Muir community fund pledges to support larger ambitious projects

A community fund established by Banks Renewables has awarded more than a quarter of a million pounds to local organisations near its South Lanarkshire wind farm.

A new annual report has shown that forty-nine grants totalling £267,047 have been awarded by the Kype Muir Community Panel (KMCP) from funds of £466,877 contributed by the wind farm operator.

The panel encourages applications from groups within a 10km radius of Banks’ 26 turbine Kype Muir Wind Farm near Strathaven and is now held as a leading example of what can be achieved by community-led partnerships with developers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the KMCP fund performed a key role by responding quickly to provide practical support to residents and community groups and helping to keep services running for the most vulnerable members of the surrounding community.

The KMCP has directly supported a range of community needs, from repairs to community buildings to restoring community art to offering a lifeline to the most vulnerable throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Climate Action Strathaven, a charity looking to increase sustainability and climate awareness, was set up one month before the first coronavirus lockdown and has since received vital funding through the KMCP.

Arthur Potter of Climate Action Strathaven said: “We have been focused on making sustainable choices as accessible as possible for people in our community, and it has been great to have the support of Banks Renewables in delivering a better and greener future for our town.”

Health and wellbeing projects have benefited the most, receiving £177,461, followed by disability and access related projects (£87,000) and community support and development (£80,417).

Other grants of £28,800 have supported projects involving children and young people, £20,000 has helped people with mental and physical health issues, while £15,800 has gone to support older people aged 65-plus.

This year, Banks Renewables has donated £173,162 to the KMCP fund, with this amount linked to inflation to ensure that the fund can continue to effectively serve the community in the long term. So far in 2022, twelve grants totalling £105,410 have been awarded by the KMCP fund. This is in addition to the £210,000 contribution that the Banks Renewables Kype Muir Wind Farm makes each year into the South Lanarkshire Renewable Energy Fund and the £348,000 contribution to support the jobs and training for local people which is also administered by SLC.

George Smith, Chair of the KMCP, said: “We are proud to help our communities take part in the Kype Muir project which has helped our villages with some truly brilliant projects.

“The future is bright for KMCP as we move into the next chapter of collaboration with the local authority, Banks Renewables and our community councils.”

Past beneficiaries of the fund include Lesmahagow Bowls Club which was able to upgrade its facilities with a £15,000 grant, while a £12,000 grant helped Sandford & Upper Avondale Community Council improve Sandford’s community woodland space and ensure greater accessibility.

Training facilities at Strathaven Rugby FC were dramatically improved with the support of a £7,500 grant and £12,500 helped the Hope Hub Community Centre in Kirkmuirhill install a sensory garden which will host outdoor classes and workshops.

Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “Grassroots community causes, ideas and inspirations have been at the heart of the KMCP since it was founded, and all of the most impactful projects involving the partnership have been the result of ideas from local people.

“We’re always eager to hear about and support projects of all sizes and would particularly like to see projects of scale being brought forward to match the ambition of the local communities. Supporting large scale projects is central to what the KMCP wants to achieve in the future and there has already been some progress in identifying opportunities to deliver positive change in the local area.

“Themes such as energy efficiency in community buildings, enhancing nature and the local environment and celebrating local heritage are common talking points, but we need the help of local communities to make sure these are tackled in the right way.”

The fund is part of Banks Renewables’ Connect2Renewables initiative, in which the family firm commits to maximising the economic, social and environmental benefits of all its wind farms in South Lanarkshire.

The funds available to the KMCP will be bolstered further when Kype Muir Extension comes online later on in the year, with Kype Muir and Kype Muir Extension set to deliver community benefits equating to more than £700,000 each year. Looking forward, this means that local communities have the opportunity to have larger and even more ambitious projects supported by the KMCP.