SSE Renewables Community Fund opens to groups around Bessy Bell 2 Wind Farm

Community groups in proximity to the Bessy Bell 2 Wind Farm, near Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, have the chance to power local change thanks to the 2023 SSE Renewables Community Fund.

Since SSE Renewables launched this Community Fund in 2009 almost £315,000 has been awarded to local groups in the areas around Bessy Bell 2, supporting schools, sports clubs and community centres.

Applications for this year’s Fund will be open for online submission from Monday 14th August until Friday 8th September for community-based projects within a 12 mile radius of the wind farm, with preference given to projects within three miles.

Almost £19,000 will be available to support community projects with a focus on Community Development, Energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Climate Action. This year projects with a focus on Energy Efficiency will receive additional marks, in support of SSE’s role in the drive to a net zero future.

Last year, through its annual Community Fund programme, SSE Renewables awarded over £500,000 to over 120 community projects in Northern Ireland, supporting communities closest to their wind farms. This funding has helped local groups, sports organisations and schools to develop their facilities with energy efficiency and sustainability upgrades, as well as social and environmental projects that support community development.

In 2022, Newtownstewart Golf Club, nestled on the foot of Bessy Bell Mountain, was successful in its application to purchase a defibrillator for the club. Given the rural location of the golf club without any nearby villages, it was recognised that access to medical provision until support from the emergency services arrives was important. In an emergency, if a defibrillator can be used within the first five minutes, the survival rate can be as high as 74%. The defibrillator supported by SSE Renewables will be located at the clubhouse of Newtownstewart Golf Club which is easily accessible at anytime. Local volunteers will be trained on how to use the equipment to ensure the community is ready to respond in an emergency.

Speaking about the support the group received from the SSE Renewables Community Fund Captain for Newtownstewart Golf Club Ian Beattie said:

“Naturally we hope this new defibrillator will never have to be used, but if it does, it will provide an extra level of help and protection for our golfers and for other people in the immediate area.”

Speaking at the launch of the Fund, Jacqueline Durnin, SSE Renewables Community Investment Manager, said:

“For over 15 years SSE Renewables has been committed to the principle of sharing the economic benefits from our renewable assets with the communities who host our wind farms. From our experience of working with rural communities, we know that there is a shared view on the priority issues that need investment –  – these range from more opportunities for young people; support for the elderly or people with additional needs; and upgrades to existing community infrastructure.

“SSE Renewables Community Funds are focused on helping local groups become more sustainable while delivering maximum impact for the communities they serve. We are proud to have invested more than £315,000 since 2009 in the communities near Bessy Bell 2 wind farm. We also want to acknowledge the role of volunteers in their local communities. Without volunteers and community representatives dedicating their time and energy to improving life in their areas and providing opportunities these areas would be worse off.

“This year our application process is moving online, which will help streamline the application process for groups. We look forward to supporting innovative and sustainable project applications this year.”

SSE Renewables’ Bessy Bell 2 wind farm has a generation capacity of 9MW, enough generation capacity to be capable of powering almost 8,000 homes in the region with clean, green energy every year.

The closing date for the SSE Renewables Community Fund, is 5pm on 8 September 2023.

For more information on how to apply, visit: https://www.sserenewables.com/BessyBell2Fund

Or contact the Community Investment Manager via email at NIcommunityfund@sse.com

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