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Extra money and new opportunities available from Moor House Farm community fund

Charities, community groups and good causes in the area around a Darlington wind farm can now get bigger grants for more purposes from the community fund that’s linked to it.

Banks Renewables, part of The Banks Group, will provide over £750,000 of community funding over the 25-year lifespan of its Moor House wind farm, which sits to the north east of Barmpton, around three miles to the east of the A1.

Since the wind farm began generating green electricity at the start of 2018, the County Durham-headquartered firm has directed around £210,000 from its revenues into the fund, with 42 separate grants totalling over

£101,000 so far being awarded to local community projects so far.

But now, Banks Renewables has revised the fund’s eligibility criteria for the next year in order to award larger grants to more local organisations for a wider range of projects.

The maximum size of any single grant has been more than doubled, from

£3,000 to £7,000, while for the first time, applications can also be considered to support revenue funding to help support running costs.

The Moor House wind farm fund is independently administered on behalf of Banks Renewables by the County Durham Community Foundation, with a funding committee made up of local community representatives who meet regularly to assess grant applications to help ensure that grants are awarded in ways which meet local priorities.

Eligibility for grants is normally restricted to projects and activities within the closest communities at Sadberge, Bishopton, East & West Newbiggin, Bishopton, Little Stainton, Great Stainton, Great Burdon, Barmpton, Brafferton, and areas of Whinfield, Harrogate Hill, Beaumont Hill and Coatham Mundeville which are north of the A1150 and east of the A167.

But it has now been agreed by the committee that projects in the additional areas of Heighington & Coniscliffe, Hurworth, Neasham and Middleton St George can also now access the fund.

Community groups and voluntary organisations operating within and benefiting people who live in these areas will be considered for grant assistance, with particular emphasis being placed on the children, senior citizens and disabled within the community.  Projects in neighbouring areas may also be eligible if they can be shown to benefit people living within the closest communities.

Cllr Brian Jones of Darlington Borough Council, who chairs the funding committee, says: “The Moor House wind farm fund has proved to be an extremely useful resource for dozens of community groups and good causes around our area, most especially over the last couple of years.

“Widening access to the fund will enable it to make an even bigger local impact and we would very much encourage everyone to look at how their community could benefit from the money that’s available.”

Local organisations that have previously received grants from the Moor House wind farm fund include Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington, Bishopton Parish Council, the food bank at the Kings Church on Prospect Place, the Darlington hub of food redistribution charity The Bread and Butter Thing, St Andrew’s Church in Sadberge and Haughton Cricket Club.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Banks Renewables also temporarily relaxed the eligibility criteria for grants from the fund to help ensure local groups responding to urgent community needs had access to the capital they required to cover additional costs.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The grants that we’ve made so far from the Moor House fund have made a real difference to the facilities and activities that local people can access, as well as to the invaluable work carried out by a wide range of organisations over the last two years.

“In what obviously remains a challenging environment for us all, we know that many charities and community groups are facing real difficulties in finding the money they need to meet their running costs, let alone deliver the different projects and activities that they want to provide for the benefit of local people.

“Widening access to the fund will mean the money coming from the wind farm can make an even bigger impact across the local area than it already does and provide more people and organisations with the opportunity to benefit from it.

“The Moor House community fund was specifically designed to deliver a range of tangible benefits across the local community which go hand-in-hand with the environment benefits that result from the substantial amounts of green electricity generated by the wind farm.

“We’re now keen to hear from as many different local groups as we can to ensure this additional funding starts to make an impact in the community as soon as possible.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding from Moor House wind farm fund should contact the County Durham Community Foundation via fundmanager@bankscomunityfund.org.uk or on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

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