Local projects benefit from West of Orkney Windfarm support


A number of projects in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney are making a positive impact in their local communities thanks to support from the West of Orkney Windfarm.

Last year the developer set up a small donations fund, offering up to £1000 each towards worthwhile programmes in the far north.

Projects which have received a boost range from an initiative seeking to remove Pacific Salmon from the River Thurso to a group of Orkney girls selected to represent Scotland at the Dance World Cup in Braga, Portugal, in July.

Other recipients include Home Start Orkney, which offers emotional and practical support to parents in need, and the Dunnet Forestry Trust which aims to re-structure a local forest from its origins as a commercial conifer plantation into a mixed woodland for the public to enjoy.

Fiona Carlisle, Manager at Home-Start Orkney said:

“The funds allow us to provide a weekly group, giving local families the opportunity to socialise, connect and meet other local parents facing the challenges that parenthood can present, plus they help support our volunteers, who provide the much-needed home visiting support throughout Orkney.”

John Drummond from River Thurso Ltd said:

“This project was the first in the UK and as a result of its success, many other river managers are now looking to copy the idea for their river systems in future years.  Pacific Salmon are a non-native invasive species and in recent years have been threating Atlantic Salmon and their habitat, therefore preventing them creating a foothold in Scottish and UK Rivers is seen as critical.”

Another recipient is Orkney Young Carers, which helps children and young people who support someone in their home. They organise activities once per month to give the young carers something fun to do and in recognition for the important role they play in their families.

Lynne Bartlett at Orkney Young Carers said:

“The donation will go towards a break for the secondary aged young carers.  They will have something exciting to look forward to and a very well-deserved break from their caring responsibilities at home.”

Mike Hay, Deputy Project Director at the West of Orkney Windfarm said:

“Our donations programme is just one small way in which we can support some of the many worthwhile initiatives in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney. In every case we have been immensely impressed by the passion and professionalism which each organisation brings, whether its aims are sports, the arts, social care, education or the environment, and we hope the funds we provide help them reach their goals.”

The West of Orkney Windfarm is being developed around 30km off the west coast of Orkney and around 25km from the north Sutherland coast. With an expected capacity of around 2GW, and first power scheduled for 2029, the project will be capable of powering the equivalent of more than two million homes.

It is being developed by a joint venture comprising Corio Generation, TotalEnergies and Renewable Infrastructure Development Group (RIDG).

In addition to the local donations scheme, the windfarm developers have kick-started a number of other initiatives in Caithness, Sutherland and Orkney including a £1 million Research and Innovation programme at EMEC, a £900,000 pan-industry programme to support ten new STEM coordinators across the UHI partnership, and £125,000 to enable up to seven local companies to take part in the rigorous 12-18 month Fit For Offshore Renewables (F4OR) development programme.

Local organisations interested in applying for a donation should fill in an online application form which can be found here.

Applications are encouraged for activities including (but not restricted to):

·       Education in science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) and the environment

·       Social enterprises or initiatives

·       The arts

“The donations fund will remain open throughout 2024 and we are keen to support small organisations and local initiatives based in Caithness, Sutherland Orkney in particular,” Mike concludes.

Organisations which were awarded a donation in 2023 include:

·       North Highland Harriers

·       Thurso River Ltd

·       Just Dance

·       Orkney Athletic Association

·       Kirkwall Grammar School Parents Council

·       Dunnet Forestry Trust

·       Orkney Marine Mammal Research initiative

·       Home Start Orkney

·       Holm Sailing Club

·       Netball Orkney

·       Orkney Library

·       Orkney Young Carers

·       Orkney Ringing Group

·       Orkney Wargames

·       Bettyhill Hotel


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