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Dogger Bank Wind Farm announces new £25 million commitment to coastal communities as long-term legacy for world-leading renewable energy project

(UTC)
Pupils from Hornsea Nursery, one of the early years settings

Dogger Bank Wind Farm has today announced additional funding of £25 million to support coastal communities across the North and North East of England over its planned 35-year operational lifespan.

  • The fund will be used to enhance science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) education for young people during the planned 35-year operational lifespan of the wind farm, equipping them with the skills to succeed in a net zero world.
  • The £25 million investment will be built on the £1 million community fund already invested in the North and North-East of England during the construction phase of the world’s largest offshore wind farm.
  • The fund represents one of the largest community investments in offshore wind in the UK.
  • The project has already created or supported over 2,000 jobs in the UK, contributing to 100,000+ UK offshore wind jobs needed to meet current national targets.
  • The investment includes growing the current scholarship programme, with 30 scholarships a year for students studying STEM subjects

This commitment includes funding projects that enhance STEM education to help young people gain the skills and knowledge required to fulfill their potential in a net zero world. This announcement takes place during Wind Energy Week 2024 which showcases the industry’s achievements and discusses what is needed to accelerate large-scale growth.

Set to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm once complete, Dogger Bank is situated over 130km from the Yorkshire coast and will produce enough renewable energy to supply electricity to six million homes in the UK annually. The wind farm, a joint venture between SSE Renewables, Equinor, and Vårgrønn, produced first power in October 2023.

The new community fund builds on the £1 million community fund set up during the construction phase of Dogger Bank, which has already supported more than 36,000 young people across 204 schools, provided 62 university scholarships, and provided 87 grants to local community groups.

In addition to the Dogger Bank community funds, 50% of the wind farm’s rental payments to the Crown Estate will support the Coastal Communities Fund, a UK Government-funded initiative to support the economic growth of coastal areas. Under the current arrangement the funds received by the Coastal Communities Fund will equate to 1% of the wind farm’s gross revenue, which could amount to tens of millions of pounds being invested in coastal communities during the operation of Dogger Bank Wind Farm. Dogger Bank Wind Farm has also been a strong supporter of the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP), playing a key role in advancing the offshore wind industry in the UK.

RenewableUK's Chief Executive Dan McGrail said:

"Dogger Bank Wind Farm's commitment to provide a further £25 million to local communities in East Yorkshire and the North East of England shows that the offshore wind industry can provide significant economic benefits to coastal areas where renewable energy comes ashore and where our operation and maintenance centres are based. This funding will provide a boost to school pupils, university students and community groups, creating opportunities for new careers as well as getting much-needed community facilities built. Our industry is transforming the lives of people in coastal communities around the UK, and this is a great example of how this partnership works in action".

Dogger Bank’s community fund will continue to focus over the next 3 years on the key communities of East Riding of Yorkshire and Redcar & Cleveland where the renewable energy from the wind farm comes ashore, and South Tyneside, which is home to the wind farm’s operation and maintenance base. Once the project is fully commissioned, the community fund will continue to invest in each community, with an emphasis on the South Tyneside area, where the wind farm has a long-term presence.

Mark Halliday, Dogger Bank Operations Director, said:

"Through the operations community fund, we continue to aim to empower and uplift communities by investing in projects that make a lasting impact. We are particularly excited to support the levelling up agenda by working with schools in the North and North East of England, where I personally grew up, by providing opportunities for STEM education. By fostering a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, we hope to equip the next generation with the skills they need to be a part of a sustainable future."

The operational fund will continue to focus on developing local skills and raising young people’s aspirations, to meet local priorities identified in consultation with the local education authorities in each key community. , The programme builds on recommendations made in a independent report by ekosgen, which described Dogger Bank Wind Farm as a market leader for its commitment to evaluating outcomes and areas for improvements in its community investment programme. The operational fund will be reviewed periodically in collaboration with local educational experts to ensure it meets the needs of local communities.

In addition to this, the operational fund will provide an increased number of 30 scholarships per year, providing funding towards the cost of further education for local university students studying STEM subjects. The fund will also continue to support community projects and local organisations with grants of up to £1,000. Local organisations can now submit their applications through the Dogger Bank website.

Oliver Cass, Dogger Bank Project Director, said:

“It’s been our great privilege during the last three years to work with education providers and local communities to kickstart a programme of investment that is bringing long-term benefits for communities.

“It is vitally important that developers work in partnership with local communities in order to sustainably deliver the critical green energy infrastructure that will shape our future.”