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Community / Project to get more people active secures grant from newly established wind farm fund

The Burradale wind farm, outside lerwick - Photo: ShetNews
The Burradale wind farm, outside Lerwick. Photo: Shetland News

A SHETLAND-wide scheme intended to encourage people to be more active through walking, running or cycling is to be kickstarted with a £20,000 grant from a new wind farm community funding scheme.

The Activate Shetland Project, which is being led by the Bell’s Brae Primary School Parent Council, is the first recipient of money from the Shetland Aerogenerators Community Benefit Fund.

It centres around a scheme that turns towns and villages into a “giant playground” in which people are encouraged to walk, cycle or scoot around and gain points by visiting various checkpoints.

It is due to start in May 2022, and it will run over a six week period. The aim is for people to see what distance they can cover, with competitions and prizes on offer.

Among the benefits of the scheme should be more pupils walking to school, increased physical and mental health among pupils and their families and also help to improve road safety.

The grant will be used to commission a consultation plus development and design work ahead of the six-week event.

A specialist public health investigation will be carried out to establish existing activity levels in the community, reasons for inactivity, and levels and reasons for health inequalities.

After the game is completed the consultations will be repeated to give comparisons and to identify how to encourage and maintain any increased activity levels after the game.

Players will be offered a game account in the form of a card or schoolbag tag to wave at strategically placed physical or virtual ‘beat boxes’ that record visits and then give points when nearby boxes are also tagged.

A virtual version using a smartphone app will allow play in remote areas of Shetland and players will be encouraged to visit interesting venues or landmarks around the islands

The fund from Shetland Aerogenerators, which runs the five-turbine Burradale wind farm near Lerwick, is being administered by Shetland Community Benefit Fund (SCBF).

SCBF chair Chris Bunyan said this was an ambitious scheme that was being started by the Bell’s Brae Parent Council but would be run throughout the islands.

“It is an exciting project which can help deliver a number of benefits not only for school pupils and also their families – as well as making road use safer,” he said.

The fund will be worth £10,000 a year over the next decade.

Shetland Community Benefit Fund also administers the community benefit money from the Viking Energy wind farm.