UK: Consultation Findings for Gwynt y Môr Community Benefit Fund Spending Revealed
Findings from a major consultation in North Wales into how RWE npower renewables’ Gwynt y Môr Community Benefit Fund should be spent have been unveiled.
The £19m fund – £768,000 per annum, index linked to inflation – will become available once Gwynt y Môr Offshore Wind Farm is fully operational in 2014.
The company says the consultation exercise, carried out in late 2011 and early 2012, is the largest and most inclusive it has ever undertaken in support of the delivery of community benefits.
More than 1,000 responses were received from across a wide range of North Wales communities, individuals, councils, charity groups and the voluntary sector. An online and paper questionnaire, alongside focus groups and in-depth interviews were used to gather opinions.
Amongst the main findings of the consultation:
-Nearly 80% of respondents believe the immediate coastal area (identified as zone 1 in the consultation) should receive funding and 59% believe zone 2 should receive funding
-Funding to support people getting into work and to assist young people were a common theme throughout the consultation
-Local voluntary and charitable organisations and schools were the most popular groups that people felt should benefit from the funding
-Respondents believed the application process shouldn’t be too bureaucratic with small community groups easily able to apply
-63% of people felt the money should be used to fund a mix of small, medium and larger sized projects
Responding to the findings, RWE npower renewables’ Gwynt y Môr Project Director, Toby Edmonds said: “This community benefit fund is a great opportunity for North Wales.
“We’ve consulted widely with local communities to identify their priorities for the funding and are committed to ensuring this fund is set up, delivered and managed in such a way that it will make a real difference to their long term sustainable development.
“The findings indicate a strong preference to support initiatives that build a better future for people in North Wales by supporting children and young people and by getting more people into work either through apprenticeships or other employment or training opportunities.
“We’ll take these findings and use them to shape the final method of delivery for this substantial pot of money.”
RWE npower renewables aims to be a leader in delivering new and innovative ways of helping communities use community benefits to address key issues that will aid their longer term, sustainable development.
The consultation exercise was designed to determine such needs and was carried out by North Wales based market research company, Cogent Research. Its director, Jo Lewis said: “For Cogent Research this was a key opportunity to discuss a major project with people locally, gaining their views on how the Gwynt y Môr Community Benefit Fund could be used to best effect, delivering positive long term benefits to the region.
“We enjoyed consulting with all sectors of the community about the scheme to ensure their views are taken into account when important decisions are made to set up the fund.”
RWE NRL is one of the Welsh Government’s anchor companies with an existing portfolio of onshore and offshore wind farms in North Wales, including North Hoyle and Rhyl Flats in Liverpool Bay and onshore projects on Anglesey.
Press release, March 12, 2013; Image: rwe