Wind energy fund benefits locals’ lives during pandemic

RWE is committed to investing in the communities around its renewables projects. In 2019, an annual community fund of £133,250 (index linked) was set up for the operational lifetime of Bad á Cheò Onshore Wind Farm, expected to be around 25 years.  Funding is distributed to the local community following  three local decision making panels, one of which, the Latheron, Lybster & Clyth Community Council area, has announced the distribution of over £40,000 to community projects and to individuals for the purpose of education and training.

The community project awards are to two groups:

  • £6,211 to Lybster Golf Club to address a shortfall in income due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • £20,000 over two years to Caithness Community Connections to deliver youth club sessions 

Seven awards totalling over £14,000 were made through the Bad á Cheò Education & Training Fund. These included: ECITB Mechanical Joint Integrity training, BSc Biomedical Science, HNC Childhood Practice, Primary Education MA, BSC MSCI Zoology and BSc (Hons) Environmental Geography and Outdoor Education.

One local resident who is benefitting from this is Kieran Watts.  He is studying BSc (Hons) Environmental Geography and Outdoor Education through the University of Stirling and the funding he received will enable the purchase of a laptop and the necessary statistical and mapping programs software to enable online learning.

Kieran said: “Thanks to the support from the Bad á Cheò Education and Training Fund, I am able to continue my education with minimal disruption despite current events. I would normally do freelance work over the summer to provide funds for my education the following year, but as I work in the adventure tourism sector, Covid-19 restrictions have made that impossible this summer. The laptop the community fund has provided will enable me to continue studying at the level I need, whilst being home, and that is fantastic.”

Katy Woodington, RWE Renewable UK’s Community Investment Manager said: “RWE is delighted with the innovative and flexible use of wind farm funding that our Bad á Cheò Wind Farm funds provide.  It is always exciting to recognise and celebrate that the education and training fund is changing local residents’ lives by increasing their job opportunities and ability to access training opportunities in a remote part of Scotland. It is amazing how diverse and interesting the courses are that local people are undertaking, particularly accessing them online at this challenging time,  highlighting that a funding mechanism like this is long overdue.”

The Bad á Cheò Wind Farm Community Fund is being managed by Foundation Scotland on behalf of the funding panel.  Caithness-based Foundation Scotland Community Coordinator, Eilidh Coll, said: “The more awards we make, hopefully people will be able to see the tangible benefits of applying for a helping hand to do a course or undertake some training. The application process is straightforward and as can be seen can be used to part fund a vast array of courses online and at learning hubs.”

Bad á Cheò Wind Farm is 100% owned by RWE, the UK’s second largest generator of electricity and third largest renewable energy company in Europe.