The 3rd Falck Renewables Sustainable Community Forum took place yesterday and gathered about 70 delegates from the local communities living around our wind farms in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway.
AIthough it was a bit of a challenge to stage our annual event online we felt that this year more than ever it was important to get together to renew our relationships and share our experiences from the past year. We have always believed that local people are the key to success – from running community benefit funds and distributing financial support each year to many deserving causes, to setting up local co-operatives so that communities can benefit from the profits generated by their local wind farm.
This view was echoed by Toni Volpe, Falck Renewables CEO, who opened the event welcoming the large number of participants and thanking everyone for their continuous commitment to support their local communities, especially in these difficult times.
Two video roundups highlighted some of the inspiring initiatives undertaken by our UK community Benefit Trusts and some of the projects delivered through our COVID-19 Relief Fund which was launched in April 2020. The fund helped ease some of the health, social and economic difficulties caused by the pandemic in the UK largely due to the hard work of the Benefit Trusts who decided how and where best to distribute the financial support helping hundreds, if not thousands of people in need.
Compered by Alessandro Costa, Head of Sustainability, the online forum also featured an introduction to the Youth Panel from Gordon Muir of the Rural Development Trust – a project funded by the Auchrobert Wind Farm Community Benefit Trust aimed at involving young people in community development and helping them gaining experience in managing socially impactful projects.
Special guest Chadden Hunter, producer and director of the bestselling wildlife documentaries such as the BBC’s Planet Earth II, shared details and insights from behind the cameras across five continents.
We also celebrated our annual awards with winners announced for the “Best Community Project for a Recovery for Resilient Sustainable Future” and the “Support Scheme for Sustainable Energy Studies 2020”.
Winners of the best proposals for innovative projects to make a difference to people’s quality of life during the Covid 19 pandemic were:
- “Independent Living Skills” – Boyndie Trust
This initiative from the Boyndie Trust, a community social enterprise that for 20 years has provided skills development training programmes for vulnerable adults with special needs, aims to remotely deliver training to help vulnerable adults learn how to shop, cook nutritious foods and live a healthy and independent life.
- “External interactive game scheme COVID 19” – Kilbraur Wind Farm Community Benefit Trust and Golspie and Rogart primary schools
The project will ensure that children in local primary schools can continue to play outside, with each class having its own equipment game to reduce the risk of infection. Children will be involved in the choice of equipment, giving them a sense of belonging.
- “Village Nursery Woodland Play Development” – Cambusbarron Community Development Trust
This initiative is focused on the health and wellbeing of the young people in the local community with plans for a bespoke environmentally friendly nursery in local community owned woodland. The new building will also be available to a wide range of other community groups.
- Sutherland Friends Call – Kilbraur Wind Farm Community Benefit Trust
The project will provide support by telephone to anyone experiencing loneliness, isolation, or mental ill health in their local area. Training and support will be provided for volunteers who call anyone who needs help.
We were delighted to receive ten applications for our Student Support Scheme for Sustainable Energy Studies with awards made to five students living near our wind farms who will receive financial support to help them gain professional skills in the renewable energy sector. They are:
- Zoe Dickson from Falkirk (Earlsburn and Kingsburn Wind Farms) studying at Strathclyde University
- Joanna O’Driscoll from Brora (Kilbraur Wind Farm) studying at the University of Highlands and Islands
- Jessica Morris from Inverurie (Boyndie Wind Farm) studying at the University of Strathclyde
- Tom Adamson from Embo (Kilbraur Wind Farm) studying at Imperial College London
- Paul Rae from Portsoy (Boyndie Wind Farm) studying at the University of Strathclyde
Richard Dibley, Director of Falck Renewables Wind Ltd brought the forum to a close, emphasising Falck Renewables’ strong commitment to the communities around our wind farms and looking forward to meeting all the participants in person, hopefully before too long.
For those of you who were unable to attend the Forum and for those of you who would like to re-watch the videos from the event here are the links to: