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SSE Renewables generates benefits for people and their communities

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SSE Renewables Logo
SSE Renewables Logo

SSE Renewables has been continuing to invest in the Highlands and Islands to ensure that communities are supported towards net zero, young people are looked after and employment opportunities are available to all.

Home to the widest spread of SSE Renewables’ community funds, the Highlands and Islands region hosts 13 developments that provide community benefit, including two hydro schemes.

Approximately £67m will be invested through SSE Renewables, local community funds in Highlands local authority area, and £35m through the Sustainable Development Fund over their lifetime.

In 2021/22 the focus for the local funds was ensuring communities continued to thrive after the pandemic.

Many projects which were delayed due to pandemic restrictions have now become operational and we have identified a trend in projects which support well-being.

It is evident that many communities are becoming more ambitious and developing substantive projects to support community needs for generations, especially in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis.

A recent report has shown the progessive impact that SSE Renewables community investment has had within the Highlands and Islands region.

Stephen Wheeler, managing director of SSE Renewables, said: “SSE Renewables is unique in the way it has built long-standing relationships with the communities where we operate our assets.

“The principle of sharing the economic value of renewables projects with local communities is one which we have been committed to since 2008.

“Our current funds are worth over £310m to local communities but this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we commit to delivering 50TWh of clean energy we also commit to significantly increasing the overall value of our community funds.

“Our funds provide communities with an important source of funding which is being used to help transform the social capital of local places, many of which are in very rural locations.

“It is clear from this report, and the transformational nature of the projects that are being funded, that it’s not only the renewables industry which has grown.

“Communities have been growing their ambitions, and our funding and support is helping them to deliver on their aspirations.”

SSE Renewables, Highland Sustainable Development Fund. Gordonbush Wind Farm.
SSE Renewables, Highland Sustainable Development Fund. Gordonbush Wind Farm.

Community housing impact in rural Highlands

The Stronelairg Wind Farm Ltd Community fund has been instrumental in helping rural communities build affordable housing for future generations.

£1.2m was donated from the fund to help with this, leading to the building of 23 community owned homes.

A lack of affordable housing has become a widespread problem for many rural communities.

In response, Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company has built green homes for future generations through the use of the fund.

The housing development consists of 12 properties ranging from starter flats and retirement homes to family villas.

The homes were built to be as eco-friendly as possible with high energy efficiency achieved through air source heating.

Locally sourced stone from an adjacent borrow pit reduced transport costs and emissions.

The development includes cycle stands to encourage active travel and the grounds are landscaped with over 500 trees and shrubs.

In addition to the Stronelairg funding, £238k was donated from the Bhlaraidh Community Fund and £115k from the Sustainable Development Fund.

Councillor Margaret Davidson, said: “I have seen this project since it was an initial idea through to completion of splendid houses, filled with local people, in a beautiful setting.

I am truly delighted at the outcome.”

SSE Renewables
SSE Renewables

Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Fund supports establishment of skills projects for young people

The Beatrice Partnership Fund has invested £3m in 96 transformational projects in coastal Caithness and Moray.

The Fund has supported projects that create opportunities for skills and employment; empower communities to be more resilient and to improve local infrastructure and heritage.

The fund leaves a lasting impact for years to come from enabling rural communities to have high quality broadband, to establishing skills projects for young people and developing vital infrastructure projects like Nigg Slipway.

£49.9k was awarded to support sustainable careers through the Beatrice Moray Community Fund, including a six week ‘Introduction to Early Learning’ programme.

This was run by Action for Children, who through intensive support provided the entry skills and work experience that disadvantaged young people need to enter further education and sustainable employment.

Sheila Erksine from Action for Children Moray, said: “The funds have supported the delivery of our employability programme and enable a number of young people who have faced disadvantage and barriers to employment to progress their aspirations to become social service workers in the future.

“Thanks to SSE Renewables for helping to support a brighter future for young people in Moray.”

A further £20.8k was given to enable inclusive experiences, as the community of Dornoch has taken action to ensure their beach is as inclusive as possible.

They have improved the accessibility of the playpark, introduced sensory experiences and, thanks to the Beatrice Partnership award, have become the first Highland community to offer an all-terrain electric wheelchair.

The robust chair allows people to enjoy the outdoor activities to their full ability.

The Beatrice Caithness Community Fund provided £45,960 to Sinclair’s Bay Trust to install a link footway between the villages.

£45,823 was given to Thrumster Community Development Foundation to upgrade the area for the local community and a further £45,523 was given to Caithness Voluntary Group to employ two part-time development officers for two years.

Beatrice Dunbeath Centre
Beatrice Dunbeath Centre

Supporting the regions net zero transition through community hydro project

In a bid to help Scotland’s rural communities work towards net zero transition, SSE Renewables has been making investments into local projects.

SSE Renewables gave £300k, one of the largest ever awards from the Sustainable Development Fund, to the Isle of Raasay Development Trust to build two run of river hydro schemes.

The early investment from the fund was pivotal in enabling the trust to secure a further £650k from crowdfunding.

The hydro scheme will not only help reduce the 44 per cent of the island population who are in fuel poverty but will also encourage new businesses including tourism ventures.

Once fully operational, the scheme will provide CO2 savings equivalent to c127 tonnes of CO2e per year and is due to be completed this Autumn.

Mr Wheeler, managing director of SSE Renewables said: “The transition to net zero will result in further notable change and throughout the energy transition, we are committed to action which promotes thriving and resilient communities.”

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