MORE than 900 individual project ideas on how to spend funding from a windfarm in Eskdale have been submitted to a major study.
The survey produced 909 ideas, all of which were included in the analysis.
It was based on the community benefit fund at the Ewe Hill 16 and Ewe Hill 6 windfarm.
From these ideas, the priority project area identified were infrastructure, healthy living, transport, environment, tourism, eco-efficiency and community cohesion.
The top 10 projects mentioned were sports venues, community transport, community shared places, developing businesses, youth facilities, tourism support, internet provision, training and education, energy efficiency and environmental projects.
During 2019/2020 the Creetown Initiative was commissioned by Dumfriesshire East Community Benefit Group (DECBG) to do the study to get the views of people in East Dumfriesshire on what they would like windfarm community benefit funds to be spent on.
The study was funded by the Scottish government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES), with support of Local Energy Scotland and funding from ScottishPower Renewables’ Ewe Hill 6 and Ewe Hill 16 windfarm.
The result of the extensive consultation is two documents.
East Dumfriesshire Regional Community Plan describes the challenges the area faces, the consultation process, summarises the findings and lays out a proposed action plan.
It also captures thoughts on the way windfarm funds are managed.
The second document East Dumfriesshire Community Consultation Feedback describes the detailed feedback received in more depth and is an essential reference point for anyone or any community group wanting to develop action plans in their own communities.
DECBG will use it alongside the community plan to check that ideas coming forward have community support.
Copies of the two documents have been sent to all community councils and elected members in the area.
Over the next few weeks a summary leaflet will be distributed to all the households in the DG11-2, DG11-3 and DG13-0 areas which were invited to participate in the survey.
The documents can also be downloaded from the group’s website Community Consultation | Dumfriesshire East Community Benefit Group (DECBG).
As an incentive to return the survey, £200 was offered in a prize draw.
In total, 327 surveys were returned and the winner of the prize draw, selected at random from surveys returned, was Ruth Delaney.
John Galloway, who chairs Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council, said its members and households were asked for their views on potential changes in the way these types of funds were managed in the future.
“This review was based on more windfarms coming on line and trying to identify the best way to manage these community funds.
“We said the current arrangement of splitting the funding, with a small amount administered locally for smaller projects and larger funds being administered by DECBG for larger-scale projects, was, in our opinion, the best way to meet the needs of our community.
“We have representatives on the board of these groups as do all the other communities which the fund benefits.
“We were not asked to comment of specific projects but did mention the types of groups which have applied to and benefited from this funding in the past.”
The seventh round of the Ewe Hill 16 fund has attracted eight applications which will be checked and assessed before being decided at a board meeting next month.
The fund is now open to new applications, the deadline for which is July 31, 2021.
Application forms and guidance notes can be downloaded from the website The Ewe Hill 16 Fund | Dumfriesshire East Community Benefit Group (DECBG) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as distributing community benefit from ScottishPower Renewables’ Ewe Hill 6 and Ewe Hill 16 windfarms, the group is exploring other opportunities with Crossdykes and Solwaybank windfarms.
The group is a charity and was set up in 2017. The trustees are currently representatives of the five communities closest to Ewe Hill windfarm.
More information is at www.decbg.org.uk
The Ewe Hill 16 windfarm fund is administered by the Southern Uplands Partnership. Go to www.sup.org.uk