Enterprising community projects scoop £250k from SSE wind farm fund

Ten transformational local projects have been awarded a share from SSE’s £250k Perthshire Sustainable Development Fund.  Successful bids included the regeneration of an ex- WWII POW camp at Cultybraggan near Comrie and a high speed broadband initiative in Highland Perthshire.

The Cultybraggan regeneration project, led by Comrie Development Trust, was awarded £36,350 to connect ten listed Nissen huts to a biomass- powered district heating system as part of their refurbishment into self-catering accommodation. Cultybraggan is one of the best preserved and last remaining WWII high security POW camps in the UK and is recognised by Historic Scotland as being of international significance. Over the next five years, the refurbished huts are expected to attract over 20,600 visitors creating an income of over £1.4 million for the local area.

Other successful bids to the Fund included a £50,000 award to the Highland Perthshire Communities Partnership to employ three local technical trainees to progress a high speed rural broadband initiative and £40,000 to the Ericht Trust in Blairgowrie to purchase the disused Hill School for redevelopment as a community cinema and venue.  £24,700 was also granted to the Highland Perthshire Communities Land Trust for a rural skills youth programme and £18,100 to Enterprising Eastern Perthshire to roll out a mentoring scheme for rural micro businesses.  

Created as part of SSE’s community benefit programme for its onshore wind farms in the region constructed after January 2012, the Sustainable Development Fund supports projects which address one of three priorities: employability, community energy, and the enhancement of the built and natural environment.  In this first application round, demand was extremely high with the fund eight times oversubscribed.

After an initial evaluation process, decisions on the final awards were made by an independent panel led by former First Minister Lord Jack McConnell. Projects that delivered transformational impact and demonstrated innovation were given priority. The fund is expected to re-open in 2017.

Bob Hughes, Treasurer of the Comrie Development Trust, said:
"The grant from SSE’s Sustainable Development Fund brings closer the prospect of securing the future of an important group of listed buildings within Cultybraggan Camp: a community owned historic environment of international significance. Taken together with support offered by Historic Scotland, a major proportion of the capital funding has now been identified. The Sustainable Development Fund will allow these buildings - planned for self-catering accommodation - to be connected to the camp`s district heating system, and solar PV array, and so maximize the use of green energy."

Sustainable Development Fund Panel Chair Lord McConnell said:  
“The diversity of projects that have come forward clearly demonstrates the appetite for sustainable community development in Perth and Kinross. These are quality projects that will deliver meaningful and long lasting benefits for local people.

I am delighted that the Sustainable Development Fund has provided a boost for these excellent initiatives to flourish, and I wish all the local organisations well in bringing them to fruition.”

Alan Young, SSE’s Managing Director Corporate Affairs said:  
“SSE’s approach to community benefit is simple – to help communities that host our renewable developments to realise significant social and economic benefits that will sustain over time.

“In addition to our local funds, the Sustainable Development Fund provides the ability to pool resources and support larger projects that have a greater long-term impact to the wider region. The projects supported in Perthshire will create opportunities to grow the local economy and build strong foundations for the future.”

SSE has three operational wind farms in Perthshire. Drumderg, near Alyth, constructed in 2008 and the neighbouring  Griffin and Calliachar wind farms, near Aberfeldy, constructed in 2010 and 2012.  Between them, they have already supported over 400 community projects across Highland and East Perthshire with a grants totaling £2.5million.  This figure is expected to rise to around £20million across the 25-year lifespan of the projects.

Awards:

Organisation Project description Award
Highland Perthshire Communities Partnership To contribute to the  salary costs of three technical trainees for an expanding community broadband pilot in Highland Perthshire £50,000
Ericht Trust To contribute to the purchase of the Grade B listed Hill Primary School to redevelop the building for community use £40,000
Comrie Development Trust To cover costs of connecting ten listed buildings at an ex prisoner of war camp to a biomass- powered district heating system as part of their refurbishment into self-catering accommodation £36,350
Scottish Wildlife Trust To employ a full-time Perthshire Ranger and to create a range of environmental volunteering opportunities for local people £25,000
Highland Perthshire Communities Land Trust To provide revenue funding for a rural skills programme for young people at the community-owned Dun Coillich site near Aberfeldy £24,700
Enterprising Eastern Perthshire To support the development of a mentoring programme for newly self employed, social enterprises and micro-businesses £18,100
Perth and Kinross Business Community Support To fund an SQA Employability Award for 24 young people in Pitlochry, Blairgowrie, Crieff  and Auchterarder £17,272
Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust To upgrade the Cateran Trail making it accessible for all walkers, cyclists and horse riders and to organise guided walks £15,000
Crieff Community Trust To carry out improvements to a section of the Acorn Dell footpath that runs through community-owned woodland in Crieff £12,700
Pitlochry in Bloom (Path Group) To upgrade the path along the shores of Loch Faskally to Lagreach to make it more accessible for disabled users and the infirm. £10,000
Total   £249,122