Wales’ largest onshore windfarm is celebrating its third birthday by reporting it has invested £5million in community projects in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Neath Port Talbot - including £500,000 in emergency Covid funding.Operated by energy company Vattenfall and located on land owned by Natural Resources Wales, Pen y Cymoedd wind farm is contributing towards a cleaner future for Wales by generating enough fossil free power for 15% of Welsh homes annually, as well as playing a major role in the surrounding areas’ economic development.
In just three years, its community investment arm, Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, has provided funding for 300 projects; from athletics and netball clubs, to children’s play centres, education projects, elderly groups, and supporting local businesses. The Fund has approved grants ranging from £280 to £ £491,000, helping to create and safeguard 133 jobs in the process within the local area. In addition, a £500,000 emergency Covid response fund launched in March has supported 32 existing businesses and community organisations to survive the crisis, as well as enabling 23 Covid specific new projects to get off the ground. Dave Henderson, Chair of Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, said: “The figures speak for themselves; since 2017 300 businesses and groups in Neath Port Talbot and Rhondda Cynon Taf have received funding to sustain, grow or diversify. This demonstrates real socio-economic value and it’s really just the beginning. The Fund will be in place for a further 22 years distributing around £1.8million per year to local groups, organisations and businesses. We also recognise the huge opportunity we have to develop the local economy by supporting start-ups, as well as enabling established businesses to scale up, with more than standard grants, and so have recently added an affordable loan option to our funding portfolio and will soon include equity investment options.” “What’s more, in a time of unprecedented challenge, we’ve been able to quickly channel half a million pounds in emergency funding to businesses and projects during this Covid crisis. Mobilising this type of swift response was no easy task, but our ability to do so is testament to the faith we have in the many businesses and individuals working hard on the ground in all our local communities.“As always, the Fund is on the lookout for new projects aiming to create sustainable growth and jobs in the RCT and NPT areas, so we urge further interested groups to get in touch to see how we can help.” One business that has benefited from the Community Fund is the Play Yard in Treorchy. Initially supported by the Fund in 2017 with £357,000, the social enterprise has grown into a vital community resource that has created many jobs for the area and allowed people to connect and improve their physical and mental health. Unable to open to the public during the Covid crisis, Manager Nathan Howells and his team sprang into action to adapt their offer and distribute high-quality food hampers to people on furlough orotherwise affected by the crisis, as well as supplying over 200 school lunches a day to preventchildren going hungry. Nathan Howells said: “We’ve seen the harrowing effect of Covid in our local community and were committed to ensuring that those who required extra support during lockdown receivedit. We will continue to offer support to those people impacted by the fallout of Covid and are confident we can emerge stronger together. Without financial support from the Pen y Cymoedd Community Fund this simply wouldn’t have been possible”. Patrick Delaney, Site Manager for Vattenfall said: “Each of our wind energy developments has at its heart a dual commitment to delivering fossil free electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes, while also creating lasting socio-economic value to the areas within which they operate. “As governments across the globe call for a green recovery and investment in renewables – Pen y Cymoedd demonstrates a clear blueprint for how renewable energy investment can make real impact at a local level. “For every £1 invested by the Pen y Cymoedd Community Fund, £0.47 has been generated in GVA for the Welsh economy – not to mention the wider community, wellbeing, health and environmental benefits. This is on top of an initial upfront investment into Wales of £220 million through construction of the wind farm itself. “The Community Fund is playing a major role in local economic development, once again showing how green business must continue to be a central pillar of the UK’s economic growth.”