• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group with Cllr Brian Jones at the Moor House Wind Farm near Darlington

The annual amount available to charities and community groups from a fund linked to a Darlington wind farm is set to increase by more than 30 per cent.

As part of the development of its Moor House Wind Farm, Banks Renewables established a community fund through which £30,000 is made available to local good causes every year, a figure which equates to over £750,000 through its 25-year lifespan.

Since the wind farm began generating green electricity at the start of 2018, the County Durham-headquartered firm has directed around £207,000 of its revenues into the fund, with 55 separate grants totalling almost £150,000 being awarded to local community projects so far.

Over £55,000 is currently available to award in grants to support local community and environmental projects – and after Banks completed its scheduled five-year review of the index-linked fund’s performance, the annual amount that will be directed into it each year has been raised to £39,100, with the next payment due to be made into the fund this month.

The maximum size of any single grant is £7,000, while applications can be considered to support organisations’ running costs as well as specific capital purchases.

The Moor House Wind Farm fund is independently administered on behalf of Banks Renewables by the County Durham & Darlington Community Foundation, with a funding committee made up of local community representatives who meet regularly to assess grant applications to help ensure that grants are awarded to projects that meet local priorities.

Priority for grants is given to projects and activities within the closest communities to Banks’ Moor House Wind Farm, including Sadberge, Bishopton, East & West Newbiggin, Bishopton, Little Stainton, Great Stainton, Great Burdon, Barmpton and Brafferton.

Areas of Whinfield, Harrogate Hill, Beaumont Hill and Coatham Mundeville which are north of the A1150 and east of the A167, as well as projects in Heighington & Coniscliffe, Hurworth, Neasham and Middleton St George can also access the fund.

Particular emphasis is placed on projects which benefit local children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, while projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.

Local organisations that have previously received grants from the Moor House Wind Farm fund include Bishopton Playground Association, Hurworth Albion Football Club, Middleton St George Community Association, Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington, St Andrew’s Church in Sadberge, Great Stainton Parish Meeting and Haughton Cricket Club.

Cllr Brian Jones of Darlington Borough Council, who has chaired the funding committee since it was established in 2016 and who is stepping down from the role when he retires as a councillor in May, says: “The impact of the Moor House Wind Farm fund can be seen right across the community and many thousands of local people have directly benefited from the wind farm’s presence in our area.

“Working with the Banks Renewables and County Durham & Darlington Community Foundation teams over the last seven years has been a very positive experience and I’m looking forward to seeing what further projects the fund will be backing in the coming years.”

Cllr Lorraine Tostevin, who has been on the local panel since its inauguration, is taking over as Chair as Cllr Brian Jones retires.

Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The funds linked to our onshore wind farms are designed to deliver direct, tangible, long-term benefits to the communities in which they’re based.

“The Moor House Wind Farm fund provides a great example of how this objective has been realised in practice, and having chosen to make it an index-linked fund, we’re now able to make even more money available to local good causes.

“With over £55,000 currently available to award in grants and more money to come in the near future, we’ve extremely keen to hear ideas from as many local applicants as possible about how funding could help them make a positive difference to their different local communities.

“We’ve worked with Cllr Jones for the best part of a decade on the development, launch and delivery of the Moor House Wind Farm fund, and he’s made a huge contribution towards ensuring that dozens of local good causes have been able to undertake community improvement projects which might otherwise have remained out of reach.

“We are very grateful for the huge input Brian has had on this project.  His skill, local knowledge and experience has helped to ensure many community groups in the area have been able to benefit from the Moor House Wind Farm fund.

“Finding the funding they need in the current climate can be a real challenge for many charities and community groups, and we’d love to see even more applications coming in for projects that will make a positive difference to the local environment and local people.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding from Moor House wind farm fund should contact the County Durham & Darlington Community Foundation on 0191 378 6342 or via fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk to check if their group or project is eligible.