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Community / Consultation to get under way into use of Viking community benefit funds

SCBF says everyone in the community, individuals, businesses and other local organisations will have a say in the consultation.

THE Shetland community is to be consulted over how £2.2 million of annual benefits from the Viking Energy wind farm should be used from summer 2024 onwards.

Shetland Community Benefit Fund, the organisation administering the funds, has just appointed Lanarkshire-based IBP Strategy and Research to carry out the work, which is expected to take two years.

SCBF says everyone in the community – individuals, businesses and other local organisations – will have a say in the consultation.

This will be done through local focus groups, online and telephone surveys and by distributing copies of the consultation questionnaire throughout the islands.

During the current wind farm construction phase SCBF is already receiving £400,000 per annum which is being distributed to projects that need the approval of individual community councils.

The annual contribution is to rise to £2.2 million once the 103-turbine wind farm produces electricity, expected from late 2024.

SCBF is able to use the funds, which are index-linked over the lifetime of the scheme, for grants, loans or investments in voluntary, charitable, social enterprise bodies as well as local businesses.

IBP will then consult the relevant local or national stakeholders to identify how the Viking Community Fund money can be best used to meet the priorities identified in the consultation.

SCBF chair Chris Bunyan said the signing of the contract with IBP was a major step forward.

“We can now begin to see the outcome of over 10 years work.  Everyone in the community, whether an individual, business, social enterprise, charity, statutory body or voluntary group will be able to play their part in helping to decide how the community benefit money is spent,” he said.

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IBP director Eddy Graham said it would be the people and communities of Shetland that drive the content of the plan.

“We are looking forward to engaging extensively with communities across Shetland over the next couple of years, harnessing their ideas and identifying their priorities for the future. In this way, the plan will maximise the long-term benefits for all of Shetland’s residents.”

There is an expectation that community benefit payments will also be made by the various large offshore wind farm projects around Shetland’s coastline should they ever come to fruition.

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