There was the sweet smell of success for Glyncorrwg based Afan Vale Chocolates last week when it, along with 35 other small businesses and charities, received the first awards from a major wind farm fund set up to benefit people living in the upper reaches of the Neath, Afan, Rhondda and Cynon valleys.
The independent, Aberdare-based community interest company managing the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund has invested more than £127,204 in 36 organisations from the £1.8mn a year fund set up by Swedish energy company Vattenfall, the operator of the wind farm. This first round of Micro Fund grants will benefit 12,500 people in the area. More funding rounds are to follow this year, and the Vision Fund offering grants of over £5,000 will be launched later this month.
Afan Vale Chocolates will receive over £3,000 to support the purchase of essential machinery to grow its business and potentially expand its workforce.
Anita Angove of Afan Vale Chocolates was delighted with the Award. She said: “We are a small business barely keeping up with the rapidly growing demand for our produce – being able to buy our new machine will free up time for marketing and promotion and will really help our business to grow.”
Other organisations to benefit include the Cynon Valley Showcase Siogerdd Performing Arts Association, which receives support a for a young people's production of South Pacific at the Coliseum Theatre; and, Dark Sky Wales Sidewalk Astronomy project, a programme of innovative street-based astronomy activities for young people across Upper Rhondda and Upper Cynon Valley areas.
Marc Phillips, Chair of the Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund, said: “It’s been a brilliant start for us. There was a huge response to this first funding round – competition was very strong and the assessment Panel had challenging decisions to make. We are grateful to everyone who submitted an application and are delighted to be supporting 36 amazing and wide-ranging projects across the Fund area. We’re looking forward now to our Vision Fund and being able to help many more ambitious and creative projects over the next 20 years.”
David Rees, AM for Aberavon (Afan Valley), said: “The investment into communities and businesses in the upper Afan Valley from the first round of funding from the Micro Fund is good news for local people. This funding will see projects become reality and offers opportunities for many to benefit from the development of the wind farm. Local communities can see the benefits that will come from the fund and I look forward to continued investment and many more projects being helped.”
Piers Guy, the UK Country Manager for Vattenfall, said: “Vattenfall has been developing Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm on the Natural Resources Wales Managed Estatefor a while and all along we have talked about how the £1.8mn we will give to the Community Fund every year can benefit so many people in this part of Wales. I really have to commend the Community Fund for making such a strong start with these 36 awards, it’s very exciting.”
The Micro Fund offers grants up to £5,000 to developing businesses, start-ups, voluntary and community organisations in the upper reaches of the Afan, Neath, Cynon and Rhondda Valleys, projects that can deliver against the vision set out by the community for their future.
Vattenfall has almost completed the construction of the 76-turbine Pen y Cymoedd Wind Energy Project. When finished it will be Wales’s largest onshore wind farm. As well as contracting with many local businesses in the area during construction, the Swedish energy company has established the index-linked £1.8mn per year community fund, which will run for the lifetime of the wind farm. The fund will be managed and distributed by the independent Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm Community Fund Community Interest Company.