Dumfriesshire East Community Benefit Group (DECBG) was formed in 2017 to work alongside the existing Community Councils and Groups to help manage Community Benefit funds from the Ewe Hill windfarm. The Minsca windfarm has contributed funds direct to the same communities on a smaller scale for some years. There is now approximately £253,000 available each year from Ewe Hill 6 and Ewe Hill 16 windfarms, being spent within the individual communities and across the DECBG area. With further windfarm developments being built, in planning or proposed, the region is likely to see, sometime soon, this funding increase substantially and be available each year for the next 20 years or so. DECBG is keen to ensure that the communities have a chance to say how this money is used to best effect, in a way which is comprehensible and fair and which has a lasting benefit for people living here.
To understand the challenges for the region as local people see them, and what initiatives they want to see supported, DECBG commissioned Creetown Initiative, a charities consultancy, to investigate how these windfarm benefit funds can best be used to support community aspirations. The plan has been to identify future projects that may have either a local individual community need and/or a regional impact. Importantly people have identified projects where there is a need for investment. In some cases the ideas are directly fundable from windfarm funds as things stand and in other they might require further work to source suitable funds or resources. The important point is that these are the top issues that face our communities today.
The consultation started first with a series of 'one-to-one' interviews. over 120 such meetings took place across the region, the discussion focussing on what interviewees thought about the situation surrounding windfarm community benefit funding and its administration, and especially on what projects and what support they felt might enhance lives and communities in this region.