REF helps community groups during coronavirus crisis

Published: Tuesday 16 June 2020

This is a photograph of the Whitelees Wind Farm taken from Ardochrig Hill in the foreground there is a small loch behind it there are a number of wind turbines standing in moorland

More than £1million has been given to community groups during the last financial year from the Renewable Energy Fund.

The council administers the community benefit element of the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) for 41 wind farms within South Lanarkshire and the community benefit for Clyde windfarm and five operational quarries.

It has responsibility for securing contributions from developers, advising potential applicants, assessing applications and monitoring projects to ensure benefits are delivered.

During 2019/2020, contributions of £1,319,980 (including interest) were received from the operating companies, incorporating both annual payments and “one off” payments.

The current public health crisis also meant changes to the way the fund can be accessed, with money available to assist local communities’ response and resilience to Covid-19.

A total of £600,000 was made available to help local groups obtain care packages or vouchers (food and essentials) to provide to those in poverty or isolation, transport costs for those delivering essentials to people self-isolating, technology or equipment to aid community groups deliver services during and after the crisis and technology to loan to elderly community members so they can keep in contact with relatives and friends.

Money was also made available to help community groups cope with the loss of income during the Covid-19 crisis, as well as covering any additional and ongoing revenue costs.

Chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Community and Enterprise Resources Committee, Councillor John Anderson, said: “I am delighted that the REF continues to provide a significant investment to communities across the whole of South Lanarkshire.

“I am particularly pleased that we have been able to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society during the current coronavirus crisis.

“We also put in place arrangements to ensure payments would be made in advance of expenditure to ensure assistance reached the community quickly.” 

Among those to benefit from the REF in 2019/20 was Crawfordjohn Heritage Venture Group, who received £83,476 to improve the museums heritage environment. This included installing photovoltaic solar panels and battery storage and also carrying out drainage and external fabric improvements to minimise penetration of dampness and help secure the long term future of the collection.

Glespin Community Group received £9,184 to help upgrade community hall toilets and Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill Resilience group were awarded £4,961 for immediate COVID-19 support

There are currently 41 windfarm developments contributing to the REF operating across South Lanarkshire at the following locations: Andershaw, Auchrobert, Bank End Rig,  Blacklaw, Blantyre Muir, Burnbrae, Calder Water, Climpy, Couplaw, Dungavel, Dykehead, Eastertown, Gallawhistle, Garelwood, Greenwall, Greenhall View, Haspielaw, High Blackwood Yard, High Dyke, JJ’s Farm, Lampits, Letham, Millburn, Muirhall, Muirhall Extension, Middlemuir, Netherfauldhouse, Nether Kypeside, North Brackenridge, Nutberry, Pates Hill, Rench Farm, Tanhill, Upper Haywood, West Browncastle, Westtown, Whitehill, Whitelee, Woodlands, Yards Farm and Kypemuir.