The benefits fund linked to a north Lancashire wind farm is set to make an even bigger local impact after the independent community fund panel responsible for it agreed to widen the eligible area for grant applications.
As part of the development of the Heysham South Wind Farm, Banks Renewables set up a fund to award grants for projects put forward by voluntary groups and charities based in the surrounding area.
The three-turbine wind farm has generated over £145,000 for the fund since it came online in 2015, with grants totalling more than £85,000 being awarded to 21 local good causes so far.
But with around £60,000 currently available to applicants, the independent committee of local community representatives which considers applications to the fund has moved to give more local groups and good causes the chance to access it.
The fund was originally ring-fenced to support projects within the parishes of Heaton-with-Oxcliffe, Heysham, Middleton and Overton, but for the next 12 months, charities and community groups in Lancaster, Morecambe, Glasson, Sunderland, Heaton, Ellel and Galgate will also be able to apply for grants of up to £7,000.
Successful applicants will also be able to access up to half of their grant award while work is ongoing, to help them make a fast start on their projects, while the administration costs previously associated with successful grant applications have been removed.
Grants are primarily designed to cover specific capital costs, although a small proportion of the fund is also available to help organisations meet their everyday running costs.
Previous grant recipients include The Bay Foodbank, Heysham Jubilee Institute, Heaton-with-Oxcliffe Parish Council, Heysham Neighbourhood Council, the 1st Overton Scout Group, and Heysham Mossgate Community and Sports Centre.
“Widening the eligible area for grant applications will help to further increase the direct community benefits that result from the money that the wind farm generates.”
A further £11,300 of the wind farm’s annual revenues is due to be contributed to the fund every year for the next 17 years, which will take the overall amount that goes into it past £300,000
Peter Whaley, chair of the Heysham South Wind Farm committee liaison committee, who has been involved with the project since its inception, says: “It’s important for us to keep reminding local groups, charities and good causes that there’s money available that they can apply for any time they want, especially now that we’re increasing the area that the fund covers.
“The application process is pretty straightforward, and I’m sure there are lots of groups across this wider area that could make good use of this funding.”
The Heysham South Wind Farm generated just over 20,000 MWh of clean, green electricity during Banks Renewables’ last financial year, which is enough to meet the average annual requirements of around 6,500 homes.
Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “The Heysham South Wind Farm benefits fund has been designed to make a positive long-term impact on surrounding local communities, and we’ve been able to fund some terrific projects over the last eight years.
“Widening the eligible area for grant applications will help to further increase the direct community benefits that result from the money that the wind farm generates.
“We’re grateful to the fund panel for recognising the benefits that making this change will bring to more local people and we’d love to hear ideas from as many local community groups and good causes as possible about how they think this money might best be used.”
Community groups or voluntary organisations which are looking for a grant from the Heysham South Wind Farm should contact the Fund Manager on 0191 378 6342 for further information or visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/corporate-responsibility/banks-community-fund/