Sleaford power station owners plan to launch new £125,000 grant scheme for community groups

Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant. EMN-190918-172052001
Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant. EMN-190918-172052001

The owners of Sleaford’s Renewable Energy Plant are seeking to invest £125,000 in local community projects over the next five years.

Glennmont Partners, owners of the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant, had previously set up a five year funding scheme to help local community groups and organisations as part of its planning agreement with North Kesteven District Council to be able to build the plant.

Now, according to a report to the district council’s executive board which met yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), the firm voluntarily want to go above and beyond by pumping a further £125,000 into the local area through a new Community Benefit Fund. They wish to commit £25,000 per year to this fund for a period of five years.

According to council officers, the fund is aimed at supporting projects which cover the environment, sport and wellbeing and education.

Glennmont wish the new fund to be administered by NKDC in a similar way to the initial Community Wellbeing Fund, which was wound up in April.

A new panel, on which two representatives from Glennmont, three district councillors and two independent/lay people would sit, will be making decisions on how the community funds offered up by Glennmont are to be spent. The exact details of how the scheme will operate will be for the panel to determine through their initial meetings.

At the time the plant was built, back in 2011/2012, there were a series of community benefits bestowed on the local communities, including a £120,000 community benefit fund and free heating for NKDC offices, the leisure centre, bowls club, football club and William Alvey School, plus apprenticeships, a footways and cycleways fund, 3,000 trees and shrubs and a renewable energy and sustainability fund for local schools, in a wider Wellbeing Agreement with the plant’s developers which commenced in 2013. It has supported local community groups within the boundary areas of Sleaford Town Council and Kirkby la Thorpe Parish Council and the Fund was allocated by a panel consisting of local councillors (NKDC, Sleaford Town Council and Kirkby La Thorpe Parish Council) and representatives of Sleaford REP/Glennmont. The developers also pledged a public arts fund, Kirkby La Thorpe School fund and an urban walks fund.

In addition, Glennmont/Sleaford REP has been and still is a sponsor of the NK Community Champions Awards. And Sleaford REP hosts visits for local colleges and community groups to learn how the power station operates, and is a private sector member of the Kestevens Leaders Action Group, which is administered by Lincolnshire County Council on behalf of the Rural Payments Agency and DEFRA.

Glennmont want the new fund, to be known as the “Sleaford REP Community Power Fund”.

If agreed by full council, NKDC would be responsible for the promotion of the fund, the holding and financial management of the fund, and the application and assessment process.

It is suggested that the fund is open to organisations located within five miles of the Sleaford Renewable Energy Plant. Taking into account any parish that falls wholly or partly within this range, the following locations are eligible to apply for funding: Sleaford; Kirkby-La-Thorpe; Leasingham; Silk Willoughby; Ruskington; Ewerby and Evedon; Heckington; Anwick; Asgarby and Howell; Aswarby and Swarby; Aunsby and Dembledy; Burton Pedwardine; Culverthorpe and Kelby; Dorrington; Great Hale; Helpringham; Little Hale; North Kyme; North Rauceby; Osbournby; Scredington; South Kyme; South Rauceby; Swaton; Threekingham; Wilsford; Ashby-De-La-Launde and Cranwell.

The council report says: “Glennmont have indicated that they would wish to see the criteria used for the original Community Benefit Fund to be used for the new CPF. They have suggested a maximum grant level per application of £5,000

but are happy for NKDC to offer advice and direction on this. They have also stated that any unspent money in any calendar year should be rolled over to the next year.

The officers’ report states: “The offer by Glennmont to provide a new Community Power Fund for a further five years is to be welcomed. The extension of its range of eligibility and type of groups who can apply is also a positive step and the utilisation of a panel along the same lines as the previous fund will ensure a level of continuity in its delivery.

“It is therefore recommended that the Council accept the proposal and look to operate the Community Power Fund for the next five years.”

A Glennmont Partners spokesman said: “Whilst the final details of the new fund still need to be agreed, the intention of the fund is to support local projects and community organisations within a five mile radius of the plant. The criteria for funding applications is again likely to be very similar to the previous fund: ‘improve the lives and wellbeing of people living within the area, and bring benefit to the community’. It will once more be administered by NKDC and a panel will be established to consider applications’.”

A date for the public launch of the new fund has still to be agreed.