500+ walkers stroll through Airtricity’s Meentycat Wind Farm to raise funds for local community projects

10th October 2010: Over 500 walkers and strollers took to the rolling landscape last weekend of Ireland’s largest wind farm, Airtricity’s Meentycat Wind Farm and the adjoining Culliagh Wind Farm at Drumkeen, Lifford, Co. Donegal, to raise funds for local community projects in the area.

The walkers, representing almost 40 separate local community bodies and groups, were participating in the Airtricity Meentycat Community Fund Sponsored Walk. The walk is held annually to raise funds for worthy causes in the vicinity of the Airtricity wind farm. Groups from Ballybofey, Cloghan, Convoy, Curragh, Drumkeen, Glenswilly, Letterkenny, Stranorlar, the Finn Valley, and other areas in the vicinity of the wind farm took part.

The participants completed the 15km route through the Airtricity wind farm in times ranging from just over 1 hour for the super-swift to just under 3 hours for those who wanted to take in the scenery. As well as raising much-needed funding, participating walkers not only got a unique chance to get up close to many of the 63 wind turbines on the Meentycat and Culliagh Wind Farms, but also enjoyed unrivalled views of some of Donegal’s most stunning natural landmarks including Mount Errigal to the northwest and Barnesmore Gap to the southwest, as well as catching a glimpse of the outskirts of Letterkenny town to the northeast.

Under Airtricity’s Community Fund Programme, sponsorship raised by participating groups in the annual walk is topped-up by additional annual funding payments from the company. This is the fifth consecutive year of the Airtricity Meentycat Community Fund Sponsored Walk – to date, community groups have received almost €275,000 in combined sponsorship and payments from Airtricity under the Meentycat Community Fund.

This year’s total funding raised through sponsorship and top-up contributions from Airtricity will be announced later this month. Funding awards will be presented to the participating community groups at a ceremony to be held locally later this year.

The Meentycat and Culliagh Wind Farms, which are operated by Airtricity’s parent company SSE, generate over 100MW of renewable energy to power Airtricity’s greener electricity supply for its growing customer base. The green energy generated at Meentycat and Culliagh Wind Farms helps to ensure that Ireland meets its national targets of 40% renewables by 2020 and the EU’s mandatory 20% reduction in carbon emissions.

In addition to Community Fund benefits, investment in renewable energy presents an unparalleled opportunity to act as a leading economic stimulant locally and nationally in terms of construction jobs and materials, professional services and through local income in the form of local authority rates and landowner rental.

Anne Reynolds, Airtricity Community Liaison Officer, comments:
“Renewable energy investment not only brings economic benefits to the country as a whole, but also specifically to local communities. At Airtricity, we believe that local communities, such as those around Meentycat and Culliagh, must also see the benefit of each wind farm in their locality. Airtricity’s Community Fund Programme specifically benefits the communities adjacent to each wind farm and is our way of contributing over the life time of the wind farm to the future sustainable development of the area.”

Airtricity is Ireland’s fastest-growing and greenest energy utility. Airtricity has been recognised as the leading greener energy supplier in Ireland, winning the Green Energy Award in 2010 for the second year running, and is ranked the Most Reputable Energy Company in Ireland in the 2010 Ireland RepTrak Study.