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Lairg Wind Farm Community Fund

01 January 2014

Where: One community council area within Central Sutherland, Highland.
Fund Values: The base value for Lairg Wind Farm is £14,000 per annum (RPI indexed) 
Date established: 2011
Administration: Foundation Scotland administers the Fund including assessing applications. 
Governance: The community council makes decisions on assessed applications. 
Websites: www.foundationscotland.org.uk/lairg

Establishing the Fund
The developer had discussions with Foundation Scotland and the community council once the wind farm was being constructed. Foundation Scotland already administered another wind farm locally so was familiar to local stakeholders, knowledgeable about the local area and knew how another smaller fund could complement existing community benefit arrangements which also served the Lairg area. The three parties worked together to agree and finalise arrangements which also included confirming that the community council would function as the local Panel for this new fund rather than set up another local decision making body.

Accountability 
The role of the community council in deciding on awards is accepted as part of their wider role in representing the interests of the community in their day to day business. Separately Foundation Scotland regularly reports to the Community Council and the wind farm owner about the status of the Fund and ongoing distribution activity. In turn the Community Council notifies the community of awards.

Determining fund purposes and criteria
The Lairg community already had access to another relatively large fund when the Lairg Wind Farm Community Fund was established. The vision of this smaller fund, dedicated to the Lairg community, was to complement the larger fund by supporting smaller scale community activity that had more of a social rather than economic or environmental purpose. The purpose of the Fund to support charitable activities that enhance quality of life for local residents, contribute to vibrant, healthy, successful and sustainable communities and promote community spirit and encourage community activity was determined by the community council and Foundation Scotland, informed by a community profile that had been recently undertaken for a wider area but which included Lairg.

How does the community access the Funds?
The Fund operates a rolling programme so communtiy groups can apply to the Fund at any time. The Foundation raises the profile of the Fund through regular press releases about awards, compiling and distributing a fund leaflet, producing posters promoting the Fund and managing a Fund web page on Foundation Scotland’s website.

Management and Administration 
Management of applications and awards by a third party like Foundation Scotland enables the community council to focus on awarding funds and ensuring processes are appropriate rather than getting bogged down in the detail of grant management and monitoring. Regular fund reports from Foundation Scotland ensure the community council is up to date with the balance of funds at any point in the year. Running a rolling programme means that applicants can generally get a relatively quick response from the time of submitting their application – usually 6-8 weeks.

Achieving Impact 
The Fund provides Lairg groups with a straightforward and accessible route for low level community activity through the year and for which local fundraising activity is perhaps insufficient. To date, the value of the Fund locally is in the gap it feels for the groups who often play a critical support or recreational role for smaller numbers of people who come together with a common interest or hobby but for whom the one off costs of replacing equipment or running a special project may be prohibitive.

Lairg

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