A fund launched by DONG Energy today is set to make available up to £15 million to support community and environmental projects in coastal areas of Lancashire and Cumbria.
The Walney Extension Community Benefit Fund is part of the community engagement programme for DONG Energy's Walney Extension offshore windfarm, being built 9 kilometres off the Cumbrian Coast. On completion in 2019, the 660-megawatt windfarm will be the world's biggest, capable of meeting the electricity needs of more than half a million UK homes.
Approximately £500,000 will be available in the main fund to support community and environmental projects for each of the 25 years that the Walney Extension will be operating.
An additional £100,000 will be ring-fenced annually for a skills fund that will support a range of educational and training initiatives designed to equip people for working in engineering industries like offshore wind. Details of how the skills fund is to be managed will be announced over the next few months.
Brent Cheshire, UK Country Chairman for DONG Energy said: "This fund recognises the long-term relationship which the Walney Extension offshore wind farm has with the region. We believe it is important to support local communities in the areas around our developments and the new fund gives us an opportunity to make a difference."
He added: "We rely on local co-operation through the construction phase of such a major infrastructure project and, although the windfarm will be located well off the coast, the establishment of an operations and maintenance team based in the region throughout the lifetime of the windfarm will provide long-term local recruitment opportunities."
The community benefit fund will be managed for DONG Energy by the national grant-making charity Grantscape. Applications for grants of between £500 and £75,000 from the main fund must be from community and environmental organisations located in coastal community areas in areas stretching between Fleetwood in Lancashire to Seascale in Cumbria. A detailed map, searchable by postcode, showing these areas as well as details of how to apply for a grant is available on the GrantScape website and can be viewed via this link.