A growing number of wind farms are delivering a substantial cash boost for many parts of the north and north-east.
Operators are increasingly turning to Foundation Scotland to “give something back to communities,” the organisation said.
Foundation Scotland, which helps companies, individuals, families and community bodies to set up or manage charitable funds added it had seen a huge increase in its work with renewable energy firms.
Multimillion-pound community impact
More than £4m has been invested in community benefit funds acrosss Scotland during the past year, thanks to wind turbines located on land and offshore, the charity revealed.
It recently emerged communities in the north and north-east had benefitted to the tune of £2.17 million in funding during the past financial year, because of revenues generated by wind farms.
Vattenfall delivering £150k a year
Energy giant Vattenfall, which operates the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay, is one of the companies working with Foundation Scotland.
The state-owned Swedish firm is investing up to £150,000 in community benefit funds in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire every year until at least 2039.
Its Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund (UFF) – now in its third year – supports projects across the region that are “climate-smart” and aim to provide a legacy for communities.
Last August, it was announced 17 organisations across the area had received a total of more than £110,000 in UFF funding.
Foundation Scotland development manager Vicki Corbett said: “We seem to have really carved out a bit of a niche working with wind farms.
“It’s about them looking to give something back to communities.
“We have a real expertise and have been working with wind farm companies for quite a while.
“It’s all about helping these companies by supporting the set-up and distribution of the funds across the area – and helping them to achieve their community aim.
“It’s a massive development area across the north-east.”
Projects to receive funding so far include solar panels to power the Meldrum Amenities Improvement Group’s electric vehicle, used to help maintain Oldmeldrum’s floral displays.
Cash has also been given to provide low-energy lighting for basketball courts in Stonehaven and sports pitches at Woodside in Aberdeen.
Other awards were to support initial feasibility work on a pedestrian bridge to Blackdog beach and a composting toilet for use by volunteers at a community garden in Aberdeen.
One of the largest amounts handed out was £9,300 to Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust (AST) to buy an electric motor for its rescue boat based in Peterhead.
AST principal Angie Fraser said: “We are trying very hard to reduce our impact on the environment.
“By swapping one of our most used rescue boats to an electric engine rather than petrol, we will reduce our carbon emissions.
“This funding will also give us a chance to learn and share that information with other sailing organisations.”
Many community buildings also received awards to go towards improving their energy efficiency and reducing costs.
These included the Gospel Hall at Footdee, Aberdeen, Culter and District Men’s Shed, Newburgh Public Hall, Port Erroll Public Hall, and a refurbished sports hall at Camphill Wellbeing Trust’s Compass development.
Making an impact
Catrin Ellis Jones, head of stakeholder engagement and communities for offshore wind, Vattenfall, said: “The Unlock our Future Fund is an innovative fund, focused on supporting grassroots climate action across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“Foundation Scotland has supported communities to develop ideas and projects that are having a real impact and placing communities in the region at the forefront of community action.
“From low carbon heating in local village halls to electric rural community transport, the ideas coming through keep getting better and better, thanks to the great support from the foundation.”
But Vattenfall isn’t the only energy company giving back to local communities.
RWE recently revealed it had reached the milestone of donating £5m over 15 years through community funds that were set up near wind farms it operates in Scotland.
The money is provided directly to local groups and causes to help enhance and improve the services they provide, with projects spanning education and training, sustainability, health and wellbeing support, as well as community facilities.
Grassroots projects backed by RWE include a wind farm education and training fund.
It is open to residents living closest to the Bad a Cheo wind farm, near Achtkeepster in Caithness.
The training fund provides bursaries to local people to access opportunities that better equip them with the skills required to enter into or retain employment in key sectors.