LOCAL groups in South Lanarkshire been given more than £300,000 since 2020 thanks to community grants from a nearby wind farm.

Banks Renewables’ Middle Muir Wind Farm, which operates near Douglas in South Lanarkshire, has directly contributed to local community projects through the Renewable Energy Fund (REF).

The South Lanarkshire Council REF grants receive funding from wind farms throughout South Lanarkshire, including funding from Middle Muir Wind Farm which is operated by family firm Banks Renewables.

The fund has offered several local organisations in the towns of Abington, Douglas, and Crawfordjohn a financial lifeline, allowing them to rebuild after experiencing difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those who have benefited from a grant are Douglas Victoria Bowling Club and Abington Community Development Group.

Grants between £10,000 and £100,000 have been awarded to the groups facilitating a range of local developments, including constructing disabled access at Douglas Victoria Bowling Club and supporting a campus refurbishment in Abington.

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Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “For one of our wind farms to have contributed so much in a short space of time is a real milestone for us. We are immensely proud to be supporting our local communities in South Lanarkshire through the generation of clean, renewable electricity at Middle Muir Wind Farm.

“Seeing the diverse range of projects that REF from Middle Muir has supported demonstrates that an injection of funds at grassroots level can positively impact local communities in a wide variety of ways.

“It is very exciting for us to be leading the way nationally in directing funds back into local communities for worthy causes. When we consider how this could be upscaled and replicated on a national level, the potential for further development is really exciting.

“As we keep driving the transition to renewable electricity generation through windfarms such as Middle Muir, we remain eager to hear of South Lanarkshire communities’ ambitions for future developments and are committed to ensuring all of our projects have major community benefits.”

The REF, distributed by South Lanarkshire Council with finances raised from local renewables projects like Middle Muir, has also contributed significantly to the generation of more renewable electricity in the area.

For example, the installation of photovoltaics at Crawfordjohn Village Hall was funded by the REF.

Members at the village hall anticipate it will generate enough electricity to reduce the hall’s running costs by 80%, with electricity being diverted back into the grid for wider benefit.

The grants support communities within 10 kilometres of participating windfarms and, through collaborating with South Lanarkshire Council, Banks Renewables aims to boost the economic and social benefits of generating wind power in South Lanarkshire with local residents.

Councillor Robert Brown, the council’s chair of community and enterprise resources, added: “The environmental benefits of wind-generated energy are well known and extremely important to us in the present and the future but, in addition to this, the grants from the Renewable Energy Fund are a massive bonus to rural communities among whom these wind-farms are based.

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“The contributions from Middle Muir Wind Farm have made a tremendous difference to communities right across the surrounding area. Through partnership working and mutual support, this vital funding has greatly enhanced a number of community facilities in the rural areas of South Lanarkshire.”

Middle Muir is one of two Banks Renewables-operated windfarms in South Lanarkshire. The other is Kype Muir Wind Farm, whose REF has awarded over a quarter of a million pounds into community projects.

With fifteen turbines operating, Middle Muir windfarm guarantees the local community up to £6.37million worth of funding over the lifetime of the project.

Banks Renewables has also proposed other related renewable energy projects for development in South Lanarkshire.