Communities in the north of Scotland have been awarded more than half a million pounds as part of the latest round of the Beatrice Partnership Fund.
Around £400,000 is being distributed to community groups in the Highlands, while a further £165,000 has been allocated to support groups in Moray.
In operation since 2017, the find was set up by the co-owners of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm SSE Renewables, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Red Rock Power Limited.
It aims to support projects which create opportunities for skills and employment and empower rural communities to be more resilient through long term social, environmental or economic improvements.
Funding this year has been awarded to “transformative local projects” in both regions, as well as initiatives designed to support communities thorough the current Covid-19 outbreak.
The latest award brings the total funding granted to non-profit-making local groups in Moray and Caithness to over £2.3m.
This is the fourth, and penultimate round of the Beatrice Partnership Fund, which is managed by the Community Investment Team at SSE Renewables on behalf of the joint venture partnership.
The 84-turbine Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, located around 13km off the coast of Caithness in the Outer Moray Firth, is Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm.
The £2.5bn development, operated and maintained from a base at Wick Harbourt, went live in June last year and has an installed capacity of 588 megawatts, enough to power up to 450,000 homes.
The 12 Highland groups to benefit from a share of £402,180 were:
· Caithness Community Connections
· Connecting Communities
· Dunbeath and District Centre
· Dunnet Foresty Trust
· East Sutherland Rescue Centre
· Golspie Community Council
· High Life Highland
· Home-Start Caithness
· Science 03
· Staxigoe Community Football Pitch Committee
· Tain and District Development Trust
· Tain and District Youth Café YMCA.
The six charitable and community groups in Moray to benefit from a share of £164,322 were:
· Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group
· Friends of Blairs Loch
· Findhorn Foundation
· Garmouth and Kingston Amenities Association
· Lossie 2-3 Group
· Moray Baby Bank
Fraser Grieve, chairman of the Beatrice Partnership Fund panel, said: “This year more than most we’ve recognised the role that this fund can play in supporting communities and building resilience.
“Once more we’ve seen some outstanding projects that we believe will make a positive lasting difference and we recognise the challenge that many face in accessing the other funding they need.
“Each one of these projects is built on the passion and commitment of those wishing to make a positive difference for their area and this funding is an important link between the investment put into Beatrice and the communities closest to it.
“I look forward to seeing the progress made and the difference delivered as people benefit from this funding power boost.”
Marianne Townsley, SSE Renewables community investment manager, said: “As we continue to live with the Coronavirus outbreak, it is hugely important that communities have access to funds to help them move forward in their next stages of development.
“We are very pleased to be making a difference to communities in both the Highland and Moray areas and it is great to see the positive difference the funds will make.”
Graham Nutt, senior youth and community worker at Tain Youth Café, said: “One of the most important factors of our work is building relationships and the three-year funding grant to support our youth work service will enable us to strengthen the relationships made with the children and families within the community.
“This has been particularly important following the lockdown period and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Helping families as we come out of lockdown and return to a new normal will be a key part of our work and without the support of the Beatrice Wind Farm Partnership Fund this would not be possible.”
Karina Ross, programme manager of Connecting Communities, said: “For the last few years we have been committed to reducing the impact of our work on the environment. The introduction of an electric van supported by Beatrice Partnership Fund will help us to even further reduce our carbon footprint.
“During the Coronavirus pandemic, demand for our freshly-prepared meals increased significantly, and we expanded the service to Dornoch and Embo. The introduction of this second van to our fleet will future-proof our efforts to continue operating in this area and allow us to introduce our meals to other local communities too.”
Ian Sutherland, secretary of Moray Baby Bank, said: “This grant from the Beatrice Partnership Fund will allow Moray Baby Bank to buy a new electric van. The van will allow us to collect donated baby items from members of the public throughout Moray and also to distribute them to Moray families in need of our support.
“We are very grateful for the support from the panel and we are excited to take delivery of our van later in the year.”
Jim MacKay, vice president of Cullen, Deskford and Portknockie Heritage Group, said: “Our group has accumulated a collection of memorabilia and artefacts over many years and we have a long-held ambition to open a Heritage Centre to move the organisation forward from focusing on events to having a permanent venue.
“The grant from the Beatrice Partnership fund will enable us to refurbish the Memorial Hall and create a space that will benefit the wider community, tourism industry and local economy.”