A company which owns three wind farms in the Highlands and one in Aberdeenshire has created an online tool to encourage the communities who live close to its turbines to share their experiences.
Falck Renewables S.p.A. is one of the biggest independent renewable energy companies in the country.
It owns Kilbruar in Strath Brora, Sutherland; Millennium between Invergarry and Fort Augustus; Ben Aketil in Skye and Boyndie, between Portsoy and Banff.
The online platform will allow the communities to keep in touch and learn more about funded projects such as new equipment for a medical practice on Skye, a playground in Lesmahagow and the outdoor gym encouraging a healthier lifestyle in Sutherland.
However the scheme was met by anger by a Highland anti-wind farm campaigner.
Stuart Young, of Laggan, said: “This will make people like me angry. It is generally hood-winking the public. Wind farm owners are not philanthropists. They are there fully for their own benefit. The money that the public gets back has already been paid for by the public.”
Falck has developed the digital platform following a successful conference in Inverness earlier this year which brought together representatives from each of the communities which host Falck Renewables wind farms.
Richard Dibley, managing director of Falck Renewables said: “We were delighted that people travelled from across the country to share their experiences and learn more about how other areas were using their community benefit funds.
“We had representatives from the community benefit fund panels, as well as from the various energy co-operatives which were established, to allow local people to buy shares in the neighbouring wind farm.
“At Falck Renewables, we want to ensure the communities who co-exist with our wind farms gain some benefit from their relationship with us. It was good to hear about all the projects and activities that have been funded within the Falck Renewables communities and we know the participants felt it was a useful exercise. We wanted to build on that and create a digital platform to help them continue to keep in touch and share their experiences.”
The website will also act as an information resource for a range of initiatives being launched exclusively for the communities, including student sponsorships and an education toolkit on sustainability in partnership with the Young Engineers and Science Clubs run by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI).