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Communities benefit from wind farm cash

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Wind farms: Company invested £1m in Welsh communities last year

WIND FARMS and hydroelectric schemes operated by renewable energy developers and operators RWE Innogy UK, have invested £2m into local communities through its community investment funds during 2015.

However, opinion continues to be divided over wind turbines, with many criticising their efficiency and impact on the landscape. Over £1m was invested in Welsh communities, with potential to unlock a further £1.5m a year, via three new windfarms – Mynydd y Gwair, Brechfa Forest West and Clocaenog Forest(1) – poised to start construction soon. RWE began supporting communities in Wales in 1993 when Taff Ely Wind Farm came online. 2015 has since become a record breaking year for funding.

Today the company operates seven onshore wind farms in Wales, six hydroelectric schemes, and three offshore wind farms off the coast of North Wales. Each, in turn is helping to secure clean, home grown energy for Wales and the UK whilst investing in the British workforce. The investments support not for profit organisations and charities local to the renewable energy infrastructure, and in 2015 alone, the total awarded from community funds in Wales amounted to £1,180,494.

Paul Cowling, Managing Director of RWE Innogy UK said: “We are really proud to be supporting Welsh communities neighbouring our projects. In a time of austerity, community funds from onshore, offshore wind and hydroelectric power stations often give access to new, long-term flexible funding without conditions, which can be vital, for example, to enable bids for matched funding. It’s about running projects and supporting people, too.” RWE’s community funds are administered independently to ensure the money is spent where the community feels it will make the most difference and that decisions are made by representatives of the local community.

In Wales, community funding from RWE is helping a wide range of organisations including those supporting carers, providing help for homeless people and helping housing association tenants back into work. Our funds have also been used as part of a successful partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), to fund training and a new Flood Support vehicle which was deployed in the most recent floods. “The scale of the funding available from our renewable energy projects provides a real opportunity to make a significant positive impact on local community projects and is a genuine force for good,” Mr Cowling added.