The Beatrice Community Fund (BCF), which was launched during the construction of the 84 turbine Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (BOWL) off the Caithness coast, has awarded £6 million to Caithness, Sutherland and Moray communities since 2016/17.

A new social impact report titled ‘Sharing the benefit of offshore wind’, revealed that the BCF provided funding for 361 community projects, helped create 73 rural jobs, deliver 22 net zero projects and enhance 64 community assets over the seven year period.

The purpose of the fund aimed to support activities that enhanced local communities and helped build stronger local economies.

The BCF prioritised projects that would leave a legacy in the local areas which included improvement works to the Nigg Slipway. The funding also helped to enhance the capability of 16 local development trusts and community companies.

Morven Smith, Beatrice Community Fund Manager, said: “We pride ourselves on our work with communities and the Beatrice Community Fund has supported the prosperity and growth of the Caithness, Sutherland and Moray regions. We had a primary impact focus for the BCF which aimed to promote prosperity, tackle climate change and encourage economic growth.

“The BCF, helped secure funding in often very rural regions to help them grow sustainably into the future and we hope the BCF leaves a lasting impact for years to come from enabling rural communities to have high quality broadband, to establishing skills projects for young people and developing vital infrastructure projects.”

One project that benefitted from the BCF was the Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau which received £10,000 in June 2022 to support people impacted by the rising cost of living. Two expert advisers provided impartial advice on income maximisation and energy for 150 cases over a six-month period.

Sadie Kevill, Caithness Citizens Advice Bureau Manager, added: “The £10,000 funding received from the Beatrice Community Fund enabled us to provide additional advisor hours which helped clients struggling financially get the support they need over the last six months. We would not have been able to meet the significant increase in demand without it.”

The BCF fund had two components – the Partnership Fund, which supported larger projects with funding decisions made by a panel of experts from the regions and Local Funds, which focused on the community council areas nearest to the BOWL infrastructure. These funding decisions were made by panels of local people.

The Beatrice offshore wind farm is a Joint Venture between SSE Renewables. Red Rock Power Limited, The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG) and Equitix. SSE Renewables operates both the wind farm and the BCF on behalf of the Joint Venture Partners.

You can find the Beatrice social impact report here.