(from left) Cllr Louise Tostevin with Kate Culverhouse of The Banks Group
(from left) Cllr Louise Tostevin with Kate Culverhouse of The Banks Group

The new chair of the committee which reviews applications to the benefits fund linked to a Darlington wind farm is calling on more local charities and community groups to send in their ideas.

Cllr Lorraine Tostevin, who represents the Hurworth ward on Darlington Borough Council, has taken over as the chair of the Moor House Wind Farm funding committee after the retirement of her predecessor Cllr Brian Jones at the recent local elections.

The fund was set up by County Durham-headquartered Banks Renewables as part of the development of the six-turbine scheme, which sits to the north east of Barmpton.

Over £242,000 has been directed into the fund since the wind farm began generating green electricity at the start of 2018, with 60 separate grants totalling more than £166,000 being awarded to local community projects so far.

Around £76,000 is currently available to support local community and environmental projects, while the amount that will go into the fund every year has recently increased from £30,000 to £39,100 after Banks completed a five-year review of the index-linked fund’s performance.

The fund is independently administered on behalf of Banks Renewables by the County Durham & Darlington Community Foundation, with its funding committee made up of local community representatives who meet regularly to assess grant applications to help ensure funding is awarded to projects that meet best local priorities.

Cllr Lorraine Tostevin, who has been on the funding committee panel since its inauguration, says: “I am delighted to be taking over as Chair of the Funding Committee and at the same time I wish my predecessor Councillor Brian Jones all the best in his retirement.

“During the past five years, it has been a pleasure to work as part of the team which consider all the funding applications and make awards to the many deserving local community projects, and I look forward to being able to lead the continuation of this good work.”

Priority for grants is given to projects and activities within the closest communities to the Moor House Wind Farm, including Sadberge, Bishopton, East & West Newbiggin, Bishopton, Little Stainton, Great Stainton, Great Burdon, Barmpton and Brafferton.

“We’ve been able to support lots of brilliant projects in the communities surrounding our Moor House Wind Farm.”

Areas of Whinfield, Harrogate Hill, Beaumont Hill and Coatham Mundeville which are north of the A1150 and east of the A167, as well as projects in Heighington, Coniscliffe, Hurworth, Neasham and Middleton St George can also access the fund.

The maximum size of any single grant is £7,000, while applications can be considered to support organisations’ running costs as well as specific capital purchases.

Particular emphasis is placed on projects which benefit local children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, while projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.

Local organisations that have previously received grants from the Moor House Wind Farm fund include Bishopton Playground Association, Hurworth Albion Football Club, Middleton St George Community Association, Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington, St Andrew’s Church in Sadberge, Great Stainton Parish Meeting and Haughton Cricket Club.

Kate Culverhouse, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Cllr Tostevin has been part of the team that’s awarded grants to dozens of local groups and good causes over the last five years, and we’re very grateful that she’s extending her commitment to the project by taking on her new role.

“The funds linked to all our onshore wind farms are designed to deliver direct, tangible, long-term benefits to the places in which they’re based and we’ve been able to support lots of brilliant projects in the communities surrounding our Moor House Wind Farm.

“We’d love to see even more ideas for how this money could be used to make even more of a positive difference to the local area and want to hear from as many local groups as possible about the things that they want to make happen here.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding from Moor House wind farm fund should contact the County Durham & Darlington Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 or via fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk to check if their group or project is eligible.