Community benefit boost for WAT IF communities

Kari Khevenhuller-Metsch (a director of LDV Harburnhead Ltd), Jemma Black (Development Officer, WAT IF?), Martin Ford-Downes (Secretary, WAT IF?), Paul Phillips (Arcus Consulting) beside wind turbine
Norette Ferns

The communities of Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax in South Lanarkshire are set to benefit from two major community benefit packages.

The local development trust, WAT IF? (Woolfords Auchengray and Tarbrax Improvement Foundation), has signed an agreement with LDV Harburnhead Ltd, the owner of the 22-turbine Harburnhead Wind Farm. The community benefit package will see £51,700 per year invested in the local area allowing for larger and longer-term projects to be considered by WAT IF?

The Trust will also receive two one-off payments for breaking ground and first production, totalling £258,500. This significant investment has allowed the WAT IF? Board of Trustees to consider a longer term plan, and to investigate larger projects which would not otherwise have been possible.

Jemma Black, WAT IF? Development Officer explains why these one-off payments are so important. She said:

"These new community funds, alongside our existing sources of funding, enable us to consider larger and more long-term projects such as significant improvements to our local broadband service. We can investigate options that would not have been open to us previously, and we can initiate our own projects that are not dependent on grant applications to external funding bodies."

Kari Khevenhüller-Metsch, a Director of LDV Harburnhead Ltd, said:

"I believe that the effort we have made in multiple meetings, conversations and constructive discussions with WAT IF? during the development of the new LDV Harburnhead Wind Farm ended in a beneficial agreement for the communities."

WAT IF? will administer the funds in line with the Community Action Plan (CAP) which was created in 2013 through consultation with the communities. The CAP forms the basis of all WAT IF? projects, which so far have included the refurbishment of Woolfords Village Hall, the community minibus trial and just recently the installation of community access defibrillators. The Trust also supports other local groups, and has a grant scheme which has supported a range of locally led initiatives such as extra-curricular equipment for the local school, landscape improvements in the villages and a range of events at Tarbrax Village Hall.

A further £30,000 is also to be invested in the area annually from a new Community Benefit Fund recently agreed between the local development trust WAT IF? and Muirhall Energy Ltd. WAT IF? currently receives community benefit funding from Muirhall Wind Farm Extension.

Chris Walker, Director of Muirhall Energy, said:

"We are very pleased that WAT IF? are continuing to pursue several exciting local initiatives with the wind farm funds. ‘Delivering Ambitions’ is part of our ethos and we are delighted to see that as a result of our wind farms, we are giving communities the power to create opportunities and underpin sustainability in rural areas."

This further fund will allow the Trust to plan for bigger long term projects, as well as continuing to support locally led initiatives and activities such as the Tarbrax Hall events programme, which started in April 2016 and has already seen free community events taking place such as First Aid Training, Sports Sessions, and comedy magician jugglers!