Communities urged to take advantage of weather resilience funding

COMMUNITIES IN MORAY are being urged to take advantage of a new fund that is designed to help people prepare for a severe winter.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) say that applications from north-based communities to apply for funding from their Resilient Communities Fund must close on Friday.

Non-profit organisations, community groups and charities in the SHEPD distribution area can apply with applications for project support of up to £20,000 possible.

Now Rhoda Grant MSP – whose Highlands and Islands constituency includes Moray – is also urging groups to make applications, having met SHEPD frontline workers who braved “truly atrocious weather’ last winter to reconnect remote communities.

SHEPD engineers and staff worked relentlessly in appalling conditions to get the 160,000 customers reconnected as soon as possible during severe storms during seven consecutive days of extreme weather last winter.

Mrs Grant said: “I was really pleased to meet with the SHEPD frontline workers who had braved truly atrocious weather to reconnect our communities.

“Because of that I was also only too happy to support SHEPD in their efforts to get communities to plan ahead for extreme weather. I wrote to all of our health boards in the Highlands and Islands and was pleased that they are taking pro-active steps to ensure vulnerable patients are registered on the SHEPD’s Priority Services Register.

“As communities, we need to look out for the most vulnerable in times of bad weather and power failure. Community groups can look to improving cooking facilities in village halls or providing cold-weather kits for elderly, or vulnerable, residents – so I would urge communities to apply to the Resilient Communities Fund before the deadline at the end of the month.”

The MSP added that an approach had been made to the Scottish Government to have SHEPD’s efforts incorporated into their ‘Ready for Winter’ programme, adding: “I also contacted the government in support of this.

“I am pleased to be advised by John Swinney that he too supports SHEPD’s development focus on community resilience planning and ensuring vulnerable people are looked after during periods of power supply.

“Mr Swinney has told me that this year’s ‘Ready for Winter’ campaign is currently at the planning stage and he agrees it will be very useful to include SHEPD’s efforts as part of the 2015 campaign.”

Further information on the Resilient Communities Fund can be found online.