SSE and Coillte have awarded over €210,000 to community groups close to Galway Wind Park through the new Local Community Fund for Ireland’s largest wind farm.
The Local Fund represents 50% of the overall Galway Wind Park Community Fund, which at around €420,000 this year, is the largest of its kind in the country. In addition to the Local Fund, the Community Fund also includes a Major Projects Fund, supporting larger-scale projects in the area, and a Scholarship Fund for local students.
The inaugural Local Fund presentation took place at the Oughterard Community Centre on Wednesday 15 August, with a total of 74 local groups receiving funding for projects focused on energy efficiency; safety; environmental sustainability; social sustainability; recreation and tourism; and education and skills development.
Cumann Beachairí Chonamara (Connemara Beekeepers Association) will be putting the funding towards a community education programme, as well as new equipment for its lecturers. Frank Conroy, Assistant Secretary at Cumann Beachairí Chonamara, said: “The funding from Galway Wind Park will allow us to roll-out training to our members and increase awareness in the wider community, as well as enabling us to purchase new equipment for our lecturers. It will ultimately help our ambition of furthering the craft of beekeeping across the Connemara region, and the conservation of the native Dark Bee.”
Meanwhile, the Oughterard Leisure Centre will be using the contribution from Galway Wind Park to upgrade their gym and leisure equipment. Maeve Kavanagh, Gym Manager at the Leisure Centre, commented: “We’re delighted with the funding from SSE and Coillte, which will help us upgrade our exercise and leisure equipment at the centre. The facility is used by local people of all ages, and we want to keep it in the best possible condition to ensure it remains suitable and beneficial for the whole community.”
Other projects being supported range from an environmental clean-up for Collinamuck & District Angling Club, to energy-efficiency improvements at Clann Family Resource Centre, to building upgrades at the Down Syndrome Ireland community hub in Connemara.
Anne Reynolds, Galway Wind Park Community Development Officer, said: “We’re delighted to be contributing to so many important and forward-thinking local projects in the first year of the Local Community Fund. As part of our commitment to Galway Wind Park being a best-in-class project, and in line with our core values at SSE and Coillte, we want to make a genuine and lasting difference for local people and organisations. We’re proud to have presented over €210,000 to 74 groups in this inaugural presentation, and we’re looking forward to helping many more community projects come to life in the years ahead.”
Details of this year’s Major Projects Fund, which represents around 35% of the overall Galway Wind Park Community Fund, will be announced over the coming weeks, following consultation with the relevant local stakeholders.
The 174MW Galway Wind Park, co-developed by SSE and Coillte, is Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm, generating enough renewable energy to power around 140,000 homes, while offsetting roughly 289,000 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions annually.