SSE Renewables generates benefits for people and their communities

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Cannich fencer Bhlaraidh

SSE Renewables continued to invest in the Highlands and Islands to ensure communities are supported towards net zero, young people are supported and job opportunities are available for all.

Home to the widest distribution of community funds from SSE Renewables, the Highlands and Islands region is home to 13 developments that provide community benefits, including two hydropower projects.

Around £67m will be invested through SSE Renewables, local community funds in the Highlands Local Authority area, and £35m through the Sustainability Fund over their lifetime.

In 2021/22, the focus of local funds was to ensure that communities continue to thrive post-pandemic.

Many projects that were delayed due to pandemic restrictions have now become operational and we have identified a trend in projects that support wellbeing.

It is evident that many communities are becoming more ambitious and developing substantial projects to meet community needs for generations, especially in the wake of the cost of living crisis.

A recent report showed the incremental impact SSE Renewables community investment has had in the Highlands and Islands region.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said: “SSE Renewables is unique in the way it has built longstanding relationships with the communities where we operate our assets.

“The principle of sharing the economic value of renewable energy projects with local communities is a principle to which we have been committed since 2008.

“Our current funds are worth over £310m to local communities but that is just the tip of the iceberg, as we commit to delivering 50TWh of clean energy we are also committing to increase considerably the overall value of our community funds.

Stephen Wheeler
Stephen Wheeler

“Our funds provide communities with an important source of funding that is used to help transform the social capital of local places, many of which are in very rural areas.

“It is clear from this report and the transformational nature of the projects funded that it is not just the renewable energy industry that has grown.

“Communities have increased their ambitions, and our funding and support are helping them realize their aspirations. »

The impact of community housing is a success story in the rural highlands

The Stronelairg Wind Farm Ltd community fund has helped rural communities build affordable housing for future generations.

A total of £1.2 million has been paid out of the fund to help with this, leading to the construction of 23 community-owned houses.

The lack of affordable housing has become a widespread problem in many rural communities. In response, Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company built green homes for future generations through use of the fund.

The development consists of 12 properties ranging from starter apartments and retirement homes to family villas.

The houses have been built to be as environmentally friendly as possible with high energy efficiency achieved through air heating. Locally sourced stone from an adjacent borrow pit reduced transportation costs and emissions.

The development includes bike racks to encourage active travel and the grounds are landscaped with over 500 trees and shrubs.

In addition to funding from Stronelairg, £238,000 was donated from the Bhlaraidh Community Fund and £115,000 from the Sustainable Development Fund.

Former Highland Councilor Margaret Davidson said: ‘I have seen this project from an initial idea through to the completion of wonderful homes, full of local people, in beautiful surroundings.

“I’m really pleased with the result.”

SSE, Highland Sustainable Development Fund.  Gordonbush Wind Farm.
SSE, Highland Sustainable Development Fund. Gordonbush Wind Farm.

Fund supports vital skills projects for young people

Beatrice Parnerhsip Dornoch Beach
Beatrice Parnerhsip Dornoch Beach

The Beatrice Partnership Fund has invested £3million in 96 transformative projects in the coastal regions of Caithness and Moray.

The fund has supported projects that create opportunities for skills and employment; empower communities to be more resilient and improve local infrastructure and heritage.

The fund leaves a lasting impact for years to come by enabling rural communities to have high quality broadband, establishing skills projects for young people and developing vital infrastructure projects like Nigg Slipway.

Some £49,900 has been awarded to support sustainable careers through the Beatrice Moray Community Fund, including a six-week introduction to early learning programme.

It was run by Action for Children, which, through intensive support, provided the entry-level skills and work experience that disadvantaged young people need to continue their education and find sustainable employment.

Sheila Erksine, from Action for Children Moray, said: “The funds have supported the implementation of our employability program and empower a number of young people who have faced disadvantages and barriers to employment to progress in their aspirations to become social workers in the future.

“Thank you to SSE Renewables for helping to support a brighter future for young people in Moray.”

A further £20,800 has been granted to enable inclusive experiences as the community of Dornoch has taken steps to ensure its beach is as inclusive as possible.

They improved the accessibility of the play park, introduced sensory experiences and, thanks to the Beatrice Partnership award, became the first community in the Highlands to offer an all-terrain electric wheelchair. The sturdy chair allows people to fully enjoy outdoor activities.

The Beatrice Caithness Community Fund provided £45,960 to Sinclair’s Bay Trust to install a footbridge linking the villages.

A total of £45,823 was given to the Thrumster Community Development Foundation to upgrade the area for the local community and a further £45,523 was given to the Caithness Voluntary Group to employ two part-time development workers for two years.

Supporting communities in a transition to net zero

Raasay Project
Raasay Project

In an effort to help rural communities across Scotland work towards a net-zero transition, SSE Renewables has invested in


SSE Renewables has donated £300,000 – one of the largest awards ever given by the Sustainability Fund – to the Isle of Raasay Development Trust to build two run-of-river hydropower systems.

The fund’s initial investment was key to enabling the trust to raise an additional £650,000 through crowdfunding.

The hydropower program will not only help reduce the 44% of the island’s population that is in fuel poverty, but will also encourage new businesses, including tourism businesses.

Once fully operational, the program will deliver CO2 savings equivalent to 127 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year and is expected to be completed this fall.

Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said: “The transition to zero emissions will bring about other notable changes and throughout the energy transition we are committed to taking action to promote thriving and resilient communities.


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