Wind energy contributes over £4 million to Welsh communities
Over £4 million has been contributed to Welsh communities from wind energy projects in Wales, according to RenewableUK Cymru data published in support of UK Wind Week (23 – 27 November).
The wind energy industry is committed to supporting the communities where its projects are located, and many wind farms do so in the form of community benefit schemes. There are over 200 wind energy projects in Wales supporting a wide range of projects from blankets for a local hospice, to restoration of natural habitats and a women’s mountain biking festival.
How projects provide vital support for local services
Vattenfall owns Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm in the Upper Neath, Rhondda, Cynon and Afan valleys. Each year the Community Fund contributes over £1.8 million to the local community. A Covid emergency fund to help businesses and groups financially has distributed over £500,000 to date.
One of the projects that has benefitted from Pen y Cymoedd’s Community Fund is the Play Yard in Treorchy, which is a soft play centre for babies, toddlers and children. It was supported by £350,000 when it first started and is now a vital community resource that has created jobs and allowed people to connect and improve their physical and mental health. Unable to open during Lockdown, Manager Nathan Howells and his team have adapted their offer and distribute high-quality food hampers to people on furlough or otherwise affected by the crisis, as well as supplying over 200 school lunches a day to prevent children going hungry.
Gwynt y Môr is an offshore wind farm off the coast of North Wales and is owned by RWE. Over the lifetime of the project, which is expected to be up to 25 years, it will invest over £19 million into project across North Wales via its Community Fund.
Funding local healthcare Ty Gobaith is a children’s hospice just outside Conwy that has received £50,000 spread over two years from Gwynt y Môr. This will go towards funding a specialist Neonatal Link Nurse. The fund has also helped the North Wales Women’s Centre, who support women suffering from domestic abuse and a community training bakery project in Rhyl that is providing training and work experience for local unemployed people.
RWE also owns Brechfa Forest West Wind Farm in Carmarthenshire. This Community Fund contributed over £26,000 to the SaveEasy Credit Union to set up pop-up branches in rural locations, fund local co-ordinators, work with local schools and make services available online during the Covid crisis.
Rhys Jones, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said:
“We know that wind farms are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future of a net zero Wales, alongside emergent technologies in the wave and tidal sector. With the scale and pace stepping up, it’s vital that developers not only deliver green megawatts to power decarbonisation but work in lock step with communities. This means delivering benefits which help them grow and become more resilient in ways which are meaningful and specific to their requirements, and for the long term. This assumes even greater importance as we, hopefully, begin to emerge from the pandemic.”