Ray Wind Farm cash available to North Tyne and Redesdale communities

COMMUNITY projects in the North Tyne and Redesdale are being encouraged to apply for a fund created from energy generated by the Ray Wind Farm, near Kirkwhelpington.

The community cash injection has already seen Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue service invest in a new drone and Kirkwhelpington has already improved its sports field for all-year-round use.

The parishes of Bavington, Birtley, Elsdon, Corsenside, Kirkwhelpington, Otterburn and Wallington can also apply for a share of a £272,000 annual donation from Vattenfall to improve their communities, develop a project to improve life in the area, or help continue a service which already exists.

The donation is part of the Local Initiatives Fund – a cash boost for projects which are not for charitable purposes but nonetheless will deliver community benefit. It is administered by the Ray Wind Farm Fund Community Interest Company which comprises representatives of the parish councils and parishioners.

Peter Ramsden, chairman of the Ray Wind Farm Community Interest Company, said: “We need everyone to be aware that this cash is available and that local communities or individuals should not be afraid to apply. We wish to be flexible and are looking at projects both small and large – we are pleased to advise and encourage.”

NEARLY three years after work began on a North Tyne wind farm, local groups can finally bid for a slice of a massive community fund.

Construction began on Ray Wind Farm, near Kirkwelpington, in 2015, and the clean power plant was opened in July last year.

The developer and owner of the site, Swedish energy group Vattenfall, has always maintained it will be making over £250,000 a year available in the form of a community benefit fund.

Now, the company has announced that local groups will be able to apply for grants of between £500 and £10,000.

Service leader for Ray Wind Farm Paul Jones said: “Vattenfall is harvesting a climate-friendly resource and empowering communities through the Ray Wind Farm fund.

“After listening to local interests, we set up the small grants programme and it’s good that it will be distributed by the Community Foundation.

“We want groups to use it and make a difference to a lot of local people.”

Charitable organisations, voluntary and community groups, and social enterprises operating within 10km of the wind farm will be given priority.

Senior programme advisor at the Community Foundation, Pete Barrett, said: “We hope to be able to fund as many projects as possible.

“This includes maintaining and upgrading village halls, access to facilities, providing vital funds to cover running costs for community groups, supporting projects that add value to public services and much more.”

The Ray Small Grants Programme has control of £100,000 of funding, with Community Foundation Tyne and Wear managing the programme on behalf of Vattenfall.

A further £172,000 will be made available later this year, once a local community interest company has been set up to manage it.

Vattenfall pays out £2.5m per year to community groups across the country.


By Bill Edgar @CourantBill