For nearly twenty years, the Spurness wind turbines have been a fixture of the Sanday skyline and in that time have - through a location specific community benefit fund – supported multiple local clubs and organisations, paid for numerous trips to the mainland for sports and training – and even helped to ensure that school bairns in Sanday get their five a day!
As well as funding community projects, the fund also helps to provide much needed jobs on the island.
Jacqueline Seatter is Chair of the Sanday Community Council. She said: “There’s over 20 clubs or organisations on the island and I think you’d be hard pressed to find one that hasn’t in some way benefited from the Spurness fund. Income like this is of huge benefit to our island and we couldn’t run the range of activities and events that we do on the island without it.”
Four of the turbines at Spurness are owned and operated by SSEN Renewables. The development provides a significant funding pot for community projects, including an annual £5000 micro grant scheme run directly by the Sanday Community Council providing grants of £250 or less. Bigger grants are then provided through SSE, who provide support on the grant application process – but ultimately leave the decision making to the Sanday Community Council.
“The microgrants are extremely popular,” explained Jacqueline. “Folk can apply for one grant a year – and it can help pay for travel if they are going away to compete in a sport, helps pay for training, buys equipment for a club, pays for driving lessons – things like that. We’re deciding on micro-grants at every Community Council meeting.”
The bigger funding pot has helped fund some tremendous projects on the island – from school trips, to a defibrillator, to a play park project and new sound and lighting equipment for the drama club.
Through the fund, all pupils at Sanday Junior High School – from the early years setting right through to S4 – get a free piece of fruit every day, provided through the local shop.
School pupils at Sanday were also able to design and run a project of their own – including taking responsibility for filling in funding application documents – which led to the development of the Peedie Putters putting green on the island.
The fund has also supported a playscheme at the local community hall in the school holidays – providing employment for two Sanday youngsters in the process.
“Having the fund split down into microgrants and a larger fund pot is hugely beneficial,” says Jacqueline. “SSE does all the necessary checks for these bigger funding requests and make a recommendation to us about whether to grant the application or not. The main thing is we’re still the decision makers, which is important as we’re the ones who understand life on the island – and where a funding application will fit into the bigger picture.”
“When you live in a small community like this, constant fundraising can be difficult. Folk can’t always afford to give to one organisation one day – and give to another the next. Having the fund from the turbine takes the pressure off – whilst still allowing us to provide the activities and events that folk have come to appreciate and depend on.”
Orkney Islands Council is currently consulting on a location-specific community benefit scheme for ‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’.
‘Orkney’s Community Wind Farm Project’ currently includes three potential wind farm sites - one in Hoy in the area around Wee Fea, another on Faray in the North Isles, and at Quanterness in St Ola.
If the project goes ahead, it could generate significant income for Orkney Islands Council, helping to provide services that local people rely on and providing a location-specific community benefit scheme for communities of £144,000 per year per site, or £432,000 per year across all three sites.
Through this consultation process the Council are hoping to work alongside local people to develop a location-specific community benefit scheme for the project that, as far as possible, best meets the needs and aspirations of the community.
The consultation is framed around two specific questions:
- What should be the geographical spread of the location-specific community benefit scheme be i.e. which communities should get the money?
- How should the location-specific community benefit scheme be administered i.e. who should look after the money?
More information – including a link to an online survey - is available here.