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Community / Community benefit fund launches major consultation to contribute to a better tomorrow for Shetland

SHETLAND Community Benefit Fund (SCBF) is embarking on an island-wide consultation with the aim of widening the scope of projects that could be funded with cash coming from the Viking Energy wind farm.

To date the fund receives around £400,000 per annum from Viking Energy which is being used to support community projects such as marinas and local hall refurbishments.

However, with annual contributions to the fund rising to £2.2 million when the wind farm becomes operational from 2024, the fund’s ambition is to make a lasting and meaningful difference on the isles’ wellbeing and help tackle major issues such as poverty, housing and inequality.

A discussion document, Shetland Today, published today (Monday), outlines some of the issues and challenges for the islands as well as the strengths and opportunities.

Some of the questions it asks are:

  • What can be done to retain and attract back younger people to Shetland?
  • What can be done (…) to address issues of affordability, poverty, and social and economic inequality in Shetland?
  • What could be done to address issues physical connectivity and transport within Shetland?
  • What can be done to ensure that Shetland’s natural environment is preserved for future generations and that the fund can contribute to a transition to net-zero?

SCBF said it hopes the fund will be used to make significant changes in the islands, supplementing any existing funding from other sources, and leaving lasting legacies throughout the islands.

It has teamed up with consultancy company IBP Strategy & Research to carry out a thorough nine-month consultation which will include community and stakeholder workshops, focus groups, telephone interviews and surveys.

In addition, a community survey form that will be made available online and delivered to every household in the islands.

Eddy Graham of IBP said: “We hope that this stage of consultation will be a creative process that generates ideas about how the Viking Community Fund can best contribute to addressing the challenges and opportunities that the islands face.”

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The community benefit fund’s current advance grant scheme will run during the construction of the Viking wind farm and is open to projects supported by Shetland’s 18 community councils. SCBF is the largest such fund in Scotland.

The Shetland Today discussion document is available on the consultation web pages here.The website also allows people to register for the consultation mailing list.

Copies of the document are also available from VCF@ibp.eu.com by phoning IBP’s offices on 01698 532021.

Details of the workshop programme are being finalised and will be widely communicated over the next few weeks.

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