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Million-Pound Award To Help Vulnerable Communities Across Scotland Reach Net Zero

05/02/2024

  • Historic medieval church to be powered using clean energy direct from the River Clyde, reducing carbon emissions by over 90%
  • Scout group to introduce new ‘green’ Community Impact badge to help kids learn about net zero and renovate scout hall with latest low-carbon tech
  • Charity making 100s of weekly food deliveries to make life easier for older people electrifies vital transport fleet supported by new charger 

A host of charities and organisations supporting communities across Scotland have been awarded funding from SP Energy Networks’ Net Zero Fund to introduce innovative net zero technology.

The groups will receive grants to help them decarbonise and reach their net zero targets sooner – through the installation of solar panels and heat pumps, to the purchase of electric vehicles and retrofitting listed buildings to increase energy efficiency.

The £5million Net Zero Fund was launched in 2022 by SP Energy Networks, part of the ScottishPower group, to support vulnerable communities and ensure no one is left behind on the country’s journey to net zero emissions. It directly supports organisations within SP Energy Networks’ Transmission areas who have green ambitions and are looking to decarbonise their communities across Central and Southern Scotland.

The next round of the Net Zero Fund is now open and is welcoming applications from eligible charities and community organisations. Alongside financial support, the fund also offers guidance and support to community organisations and charities looking to take the next step on their decarbonisation journey.

Scott Mathieson, Network Planning and Regulation Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “SP Energy Networks takes pride in serving all of the communities across Central and Southern Scotland. Our staff and networks are part of the fabric of the central belt and it’s right therefore that we play our part in ensuring the most vulnerable customers in our areas also obtain access to the benefits that zero emission energy can bring in transport, heat and jobs.

“The projects awarded in our first round of our Net Zero Fund are diverse, they range from addressing renewable heat challenges in Victorian buildings in Govan in the heart of Glasgow through to enabling a smart energy community hub and Scout hall in Ardrossan. The ingenuity of these community led schemes is inspiring and we feel privileged to help them realise their net zero future.

“Our next funding round is now open, and we’re welcoming applications from eligible charities and community groups looking to accelerate their net zero plans.”

Members of Govan Heritage Trust pose for a photo inside Govan Old Church

Among the recipients of the first round of funding is Govan Heritage Trust – a group dedicated to preserving and promoting Govan’s cultural heritage.

Following the closure of Govan Old Church in 2007, the community Trust rescued the A-listed building and its contents which included the internationally renowned Govan Stones, one of the most impressive collections of early medieval sculpture in Europe.

Now in community ownership, the property is being developed into a museum to showcase the site’s heritage. The renovations will also offer a meeting space for local organisations and charities such as those catering for elderly and isolated members of the community; groups welcoming and supporting refugees; organisations working with Govan’s youth; and local schools looking to learn about heritage.

Members of Govan Heritage Trust talk in a room of historic stones

To support the Trust in its efforts to lower emissions, the Net Zero Fund is providing a grant of £150,000 to install a River Source Heat Pump, an initiative ran in partnership with the Clyde Mission Fund. The renewable plant will deliver a 93% reduction in carbon emissions and 20% saving in energy costs.

Speaking on the support, Pat Cassidy, a Trustee of Govan Heritage Trust said: “Govan Old church and the Govan Stones are our community’s greatest architectural and cultural assets and we’re using them to benefit local people.

“Achieving net zero has always been at the forefront of our redevelopment plans, but there are particular challenges when it comes to making sustainable improvements to such a historic site. We are very grateful for the generous support of the Net Zero Fund which helps us overcome these obstacles and complete the installation of a Heat Pump that will generate energy from the Clyde – resulting in a dramatic reduction on both our carbon emissions and outgoings.

“We know that times are tough for many of the groups who use our community hub, and this investment will help us provide a more flexible and affordable space and increase our visitor numbers.”

2 volunteers from Food Train organise food crates in the back of a van.

Food Train’s Stewartry branch has also been awarded over £100,000 in funding to replace two of its current vehicles with new electric models and install a charging point at the Dumfries and Galloway base.

The charity makes life easier for older people by providing vital services to those who are no longer able to manage independently. Its team of volunteers make hundreds of grocery deliveries every week – making access to reliable and efficient transport an essential part of its operation.

A volunteer for Food Train in Stewartry delivers food to a resident's door

Gaynor Grant, Business Development Manager at Food Train, said: “Our volunteers are out on the road most days of the week, and while the service they are providing is absolutely crucial to the older people in the community, we have always been conscious of the miles on the road we clock up and the impact this has on our carbon footprint.

“The support of SP Energy Network’s Net Zero Fund will allow us to electrify our fleet and make a significant reduction to our current emissions output. For our customers, our volunteer visits are a key part of their life; having the onsite charging point will be essential in ensuring we always have reliable transport to reach them.”

1st Ardrossan 15th Ayrshire Scout Group has also been awarded funding, receiving a grant of £93,000 to support extensive renovations of their current Scout hall, including the installation of an air source heat pump, insulation, and replacement glazing.

The hall is currently used by a host of different community organisations – from mental health support groups to those working with people with additional support needs. The sustainable improvements are predicted to allow the hall to increase weekly visitors by as much as 50 people, providing a vital community space for more local groups.

To involve young people in their net zero transition and help them learn about the importance of reducing carbon emissions, the Scouts are also planning on incorporating the learnings from the project into the current Global Issues and Community Impact Scout badges.

Alan Donaldson, Trustee Board Chair, 1st Ardrossan 15th Ayrshire Scout Group said: “The hall is a central part of our local community, with over 150 people coming through our doors every week. 

“Support from the Net Zero Fund will allow us to make much needed renovations to the building, not only reducing our carbon emissions, but also lowering our energy outgoings. We’ll reinvest this saving back into the running and maintenance of the hall, ensuring it’s always a welcoming and affordable space for the community to use.”

“Our young people are really excited about what we have planned for the hall and by incorporating what we learn from the project into two of our badges, we’ll be able to teach future Scouts about net zero for years to come.”

SP Energy Networks owns and operates the electricity transmission and distribution network in Central and Southern Scotland, delivering power to more than two million homes and businesses. The Net Zero Fund has been established through SP Transmission, a subsidiary of SP Energy Networks, responsible for transmitting high-voltage electricity from power stations and windfarms to the low-voltage network across Central and Southern Scotland.   

More information about the Net Zero Fund and eligibility criteria is available at www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/netzerofund

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