Report highlights support for Windfarm Community Benefit Fund

Work has started to enhance the lasting legacy of the Kilgallioch Windfarm Community Benefit Fund – boosted by strong endorsement from a new report.

An independent review has shown that local awareness of the fund is high – with the right funding priorities in place – while making recommendations on how to build on its firm foundations to further support future generations in the 27 communities it serves.

Commissioned by volunteer directors of the Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company (KCBC) – and carried out by the Rural Policy Centre at SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College – the review was in keeping with the Scottish Government’s Good Practice Principles for Community Benefits from Onshore Renewable Energy Developments.

The fund, launched in 2018, makes around £1.2m a year available to voluntary groups and charities across Wigtownshire in Dumfries and Galloway and South Carrick in South Ayrshire.

The Kilgallioch Windfarm Community Benefit Fund, provided by ScottishPower Renewables’ Kilgallioch Windfarm, is distributed by Kilgallioch Community Benefit Company (KCBC) supported by grant-making charity Foundation Scotland.

Details of the review have been released as KCBC announces its intention to set up a small grants scheme to reach each of its 23 non-primary communities to provide extra support in recognition of the need to ensure that the positive impact of the fund is felt right across its area of operation. Further news on those plans is expected before Christmas.

KCBC Chair Nick Walker said: “We want to ensure that the positive impact of the fund reaches all communities in the fund area. Following the report recommendations, one of our aims is to be more responsive to emerging needs in our communities and this is one way in which we can increase access to the fund.”

A total of 255 people responded to the survey, which found that:

● 90 per cent of people had heard of the Fund before completing the survey

● Just over 8 in 10 (81 per cent) of funded organisations surveyed said the Fund’s direct support ensured their project was sustained.

Respondents also highlighted their expectation that the fund’s long-term legacy will strengthen community-led projects and local facilities, while also supporting economic and social regeneration, increasing skills in communities and reducing unemployment and poverty.

The report’s authors made a number of recommendations for further enhancing the fund’s impact. They included:

● Placing a particular focus on projects involving young people and ensuring that people know which funding they can apply for.

● To consider increasing the number of funding application windows and whether a “rapid response fund” would complement the current funding structures.

● If a point is reached when the four primary communities receiving a ringfenced allocation of the fund have addressed their community’s priorities, consideration could be given to altering funding distribution to enhance the fund’s wider benefits.

● Consideration of a more ambitious and creative funding strategy, including other mechanisms of supporting communities.

Work on addressing many of the recommendations is underway, with Directors focusing on communications and promotion, refining fund distribution, and fund governance.

Responding to the report, Nick Walker said: “We are really encouraged by the positive findings of the Report which shows that communities already see significant impact and developing legacy delivered by the fund.”

“The recommendations are incredibly important in helping us build on our firm foundations and will influence how we shape our work in the years ahead to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit. They chime with much of the work we have underway to ensure we maximise the impact of the fund.”

“Delivering funding across 27 communities, we are proud of the part that the fund plays in unlocking work that’s critical to making them better and stronger.”

The full Kilgallioch Windfarm Community Development Benefit Fund review report can be read here: