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Local residents enhance their skills and boost employability with wind farm funding

By Alan Hendry

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Eleven local residents have received money from a Caithness wind farm to enhance their skills and increase their employment potential.

The opportunities available to individuals as well as community groups from the Bad á Cheò Wind Farm Community Fund were highlighted to mark Global Wind Day 2020 on Monday.

Renewable energy company Innogy set up a fund of £133,250 a year for the operational lifetime of its Bad á Cheò Wind Farm, near Achkeepster, expected to be around 25 years.

A number of community projects, including a playgroup and a parent council, have benefited over the past year, and 11 local residents have received funding towards courses as diverse as sports massage, deerstalking and social policy – all with the aim of increasing their skills, qualifications and employability.

Charlotte Mountford says the course she is studying will allow her to work on projects that contribute to community development in Caithness.
Charlotte Mountford says the course she is studying will allow her to work on projects that contribute to community development in Caithness.

Charlotte Mountford, who was awarded £400 in May, said: “I'm delighted to have received this support for my studies. I live in Westerdale, and I’m studying for my master's in Art and Social Practice at UHI which is delivered from Shetland College.

"The arts is a key growth sector for Scotland and the Highlands and this course allows me to develop projects that contribute to community development here in Caithness.

“While remote learning is fantastic, it can sometimes be harder to access books, materials and hardware.

"This funding will support me in purchasing the specialist books and equipment I need to complete my master's to the best of my abilities. This in turn allows me to support my community as I put my learning into practice.”

Katy Woodington, Innogy Renewables UK’s community investment manager, said: “Innogy is delighted with this innovative and flexible use of wind farm funding. On Global Wind Day it is exciting to recognise and celebrate that the funding is building skills and increasing the job opportunities for residents local to the project.

"It is amazing how diverse and interesting the courses are that local people are undertaking, highlighting that a funding mechanism like this is long overdue. ”

The Bad á Cheò Wind Farm Community Fund is being managed by Foundation Scotland on behalf of the funding panel.

Caithness-based Foundation Scotland community co-ordinator Eilidh Coll said: “The more awards we make, hopefully people will be able to see the tangible benefits of applying for a helping hand to do a course or undertake some training.

"The application process is really simple and applications will be considered for a wide range of educations and training opportunities.”

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