Communities benefit from wind farm trust

THE first round of awards has been made from the Drone Hill Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, with over £17,000 being distributed to deserving local community groups, organisations and charities.

The awards range from providing vital life-saving equipment to the upgrading of community facilities and the development of a children’s playground.

Launched earlier this year, the Drone Hill Wind Farm fund will provide £40,000 per year for the next 25 years - £1m in total over the projected lifespan of the farm.

This is to be shared among four community council areas: Reston and Auchencrow, Coldingham, Cockburnspath and Granthouse.

The Scottish Community Foundation (SCF) has been appointed by the wind farm operator, AES, to manage the community fund.

The Foundation has worked with communities to help them decide how funds should be allocated for the last 16 years, distributing around £1.4m a year.

SCF’s Rachel Searle Mbullu said: “We have been working with the community for a number of months to agree how best the funds can be spent. Working with the local community to help agree where the money should be distributed, ensures that the money can go where it is most needed.

“We hope that the success of this first awards panel will encourage others to apply for funds.”

The awards include a contribution of £1,500 to resurface the Berwickshire Group of Riding for the Disabled, and £2,388 for the renovation of Reston Village Hall.

Cockburnspath Parent Council received £2,500 for upgrading playground equipment, while the playground at Coldingham Primary School was also redeveloped, to the tune of £2,500.

The SCF also contributed to the purchase of an Automated External Defibrillator on behalf of the Community Heart Beat Trust, in Auchencrow.

The Borders Tae Kwon Do facilities at Grantshouse benefitted from a boost of £2,483 awarded by the fund, and Coldingham Community Council’s faulty Christmas lights were upgraded thanks to an award.

Paul Donaldson, Operation Manager of Drone Hill Wind Farm, added: “We are delighted that the community fund is supporting worthwhile projects in the local area.

“It’s great to see the range of groups that have successfully applied for funding and we hope that the fund will provide assistance to many more over the coming years.”

The Drone Hill Wind Farm, located between Coldingham and Cockburnspath, was completed in August and it has been exporting electricity since September 1.

It is expected to generate 65,950,000 units of electricity a year, equivalent to the average annual consumption of 14,700 households.