Moray communities are set to catch the wind with a cash bonus from a fund set up to disburse funding from wind farm developments.
Community council areas in the Highlands and Moray, including those in Speyside, Forres, Findhorn & Kinloss, Grantown and Dyke will be able to share in an initial fund of £166,750.
The boost comes through the launch of the Berry Burn Community Fund (BBCF), created after several months during which the geographical scope for the new fund was established.
The fund has been established as a result of the Berry Burn Windfarm development, a 29-turbine project between Grantown and Forres which went into full operation in May.
Community groups, organisations and societies in the areas covered by the new fund are being invited to apply for grants. The fund is being administered by a group of 10 community volunteers alongside a representative from the Berry Burn Windfarm.
The first chairman of the BBCF is Eddie Tomkinson, the former owner of Forres firm Varis Engineering. He said: “The new fund has great potential for improving community life in the area and we already have a huge wave of interest.
“We are sending guidance and application forms to interested organisations from this week, while responding to new enquiries as they come in. We hope to be making our first grant-funding decisions by December.”
The windfarm is owned by Statkraft UK, for whom Sergio Castedo said: “The calibre and enthusiasm of local people getting involved has been extremely gratifying and the fund now reflects both the diversity of the community and an impressive breadth of abilities, local knowledge and ambition for the area.”
As well as the initial funding the BBCF will be boosted by a further £170,000 being made available in January. Although aimed at community groups the fund will consider ideas from individuals or businesses where there are clearly community benefits.