‘Big ideas’ wanted for £1 million Highland community fund

Bonar Bridge
Lord McConnell (R) and Alan Young, Managing Director, Corporate Affairs at SSE

Community groups across the Highland council area are being urged to share their ‘big idea’ and take advantage of SSE’s new £1 million Sustainable Development Fund before applications close next month.

The fund is available to non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities from across the Highland council area with applications over £10,000 being accepted. Smaller grants of up to £5,000 are also available to enable feasibility work for projects in their preliminary stage.

Created as part of SSE’s community benefit programme for its onshore wind farms in the region, the fund has three clear priority areas: skills development and job creation, community energy projects and enhancement of the built and natural environment.

The fund, which opened in November, will close for applications on 15 February. An independent panel chaired by the former First Minister of Scotland Lord Jack McConnell and containing experts from each of the priority areas, will then decide on fund awards. All funding decisions will be made public in April.

Lord McConnell said:

“The Sustainable Development Fund represents a golden opportunity for Highland communities to kick-start a transformational project in their local area. With less than a month to go, I’d urge anyone who has a ‘big idea’ for their community to apply now.

“With £1million available in the first funding round – and potentially tens of millions over the coming decades – I’m excited about the long-term benefits the fund could bring to the Highlands and its communities.”

Alan Young, Managing Director, Corporate Affairs at SSE, said:

“The Sustainable Development Fund will work in tandem with our local funds and allows the benefits from SSE’s onshore wind projects to be directed to broader community initiatives, in scale, impact and in the long-term value they will deliver.

“Since the fund opened In November, we’ve already had a large number of applications with a good split between each of the three priority areas. We’re looking forward to receiving many more innovative ideas in the coming weeks.”

Based on SSE’s current plans for wind farm development, the Sustainable Development Fund has the potential to provide over £50m in community benefit across Scotland in the next 30 years. Further Sustainable Development Funds will be launched in other regions during 2014-15.

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