South Lanarkshire village hall aiming to become UK’s greenest

South Lanarkshire village hall aiming to become UK's greenest

Pictured (left-right): Michael Newton of Banks, Robin Winstanley and Liz Steele

A village hall is bidding to be one of the UK’s most sustainable community-owned halls after installing 111 PV solar panels and four Tesla Powerwall batteries following a major grant derived from nearby wind farms.

Crawfordjohn Village Hall in South Lanarkshire has now completed the major installation and anticipates generating enough electricity to slash running costs by an estimated 80% with any surplus energy going back into the grid and providing an additional income stream.

The transformation has been made possible by a significant £166,000 grant, with 75% courtesy of the Renewable Energy Fund (REF) distributed by South Lanarkshire Council utilising funding from Banks Renewables’ wind farm developments. The further 25% of the funding being split between Clyde and Clyde Extension wind farms.

It will mean the venue will have the potential to be warmer and more sustainable for the abundance of different events to which the hall plays host.

Liz Steele, vice chair of the Crawfordjohn Hall Association at Crawfordjohn Village Hall, said: “This project has been two years in the making so to see the final result is incredible – we’re all extremely pleased with the outcome.

“To have received such a huge grant has made this possible. Not only will the hall save money and continue to host events, it will also be part of a much more sustainable future.

“We are still struggling to get the hall back to being used as it was pre-pandemic. We’re hoping that with the boost to lower energy bills, it will enable us to increase the number of events at the hall so we can continue to offer the space as an important community facility.”

Crawfordjohn Village Hall was opened as a new facility in 2000 and hosts everything from social functions, concerts, exhibitions and even dog shows. The facility is run by 12 volunteer committee members and has a large and small function room, a fully equipped kitchen and bar.

The popular hall was awarded funding from three wind farms local to the Crawfordjohn area to enable it to reach its major green targets.

£124,694 of the funding came from the REF fund for Banks Renewable’s Middle Muir wind farm located in Crawfordjohn managed by South Lanarkshire Council, while £20,782 came from the Clyde Wind Farm with a further £20,782 from Clyde Extension.

Gareth Shields, community investment manager for Clyde Wind Farm (Scotland), said: “This project to replace the ageing heating system at the hall with a state-of-the-art renewable solution is an excellent scheme, which we were pleased to see the local panel support.

“Moving towards net zero is something that we are keen to see communities embrace, this project demonstrates that small rural communities can play a part in achieving those goals.”

Clyde Wind Farm (Scotland) Ltd is a joint venture partnership between SSE Renewables, Greencoat UK Wind Plc and GLIL Corporate Holdings Ltd.

The village hall solar project is the latest in a long list of South Lanarkshire initiatives that Banks Renewables and South Lanarkshire Council have supported through the REF grant funding.

Chair of the council’s Community and Enterprise Resources Committee, Councillor Robert Brown, said: “South Lanarkshire Council are delighted to have been able to grant fund support this innovative community project.

“The installation of Photo Voltaic cells and battery storage at Crawfordjohn hall will help the long-term sustainability of the hall and also help on the overall journey we as a council are making together to reach Net Zero emission.”

The renewable energy fund comes from renewable developments across South Lanarkshire which helps communities within 10km of participating windfarms.

Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “This is not your typical solar array – with rising fuel costs this will turn a community facility into something that can run sustainably and enable communities themselves to make the transition to renewable energy.

“it’s vitally important to us that communities are able to benefit from the wind farms they live close to and it’s even better if it helps them on their own journey to securing affordable and clean energy. We think this is a fantastic example for others to follow.”

The fund is part of Banks Renewables’ Connect2Renewables initiative, in which the family firm commits to maximising the economic and social benefits of all its wind farms in South Lanarkshire.

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