TENS OF THOUSANDS of people flocked to South Lanarkshire to enjoy Scotland’s only hot air balloon festival.
Strathaven Balloon Festival brought together more than 40,000 people to John Hastie Park in Strathaven, where 15 balloons took flight. The two-day event – held on August 25th to 27th – featured everything from hot air balloons to alpacas and has become a fixture on Scotland’s festival calendar.
The festival is completely free to attend and was made possible through £16,000 of funding from wind farm developer Banks Renewables over the past year – directly contributing to the security, first aid and parking of the event.
Martin Mclaughlan, a member of Strathaven Balloon Festival said: “The weekend was a major success and we’re delighted to have given thousands of people something a little different again this year by offering a family friendly day in Strathaven.
“It’s become an important weekend in the local calendar and one that the whole area looks forward to every year. Not only does the day allow people to have a fun-filled weekend but it also brings the community and local businesses together, working together to pull it off.
“We, of course, couldn’t have done it without Banks Renewables and everyone else who funded us along the way. The funding allowed us to set up a full park and ride service and ensure the event is completely safe and secure.”
The festival has been running since 1999 and started with just four balloons. It now welcomes hot air balloon pilots from across the globe to fly the Strathaven skies. Several locally based businesses, like Banks, pulled together to offer support and funding so that the festival could run this year, amid economic struggles.
The majority of the £16k Banks Renewables funding came directly from its Kype Muir Community Partnership Fund (KMCP), which was set up to provide financial assistance to community groups, voluntary organisations, and communities local to the areas surrounding Banks’ Kype Muir wind project.
Sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, Robin Winstanley said: “As the cost-of-living crisis continues, free festivals and activities like Strathaven Balloon Festival offer families the opportunity to attend a brilliant event without worrying about money.
“It’s become a very important event for us at Banks to support and we’ve really enjoyed being a part
of it. The team at Strathaven Balloon Festival put in months of hard work to make it happen and we’re delighted that local renewables projects like Kype Muir can ease that load.”
The KMCP 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.
Applications for community funding are determined by the Kype Muir Community Panel (KMCP), a group that consists of community councils local to the Kype Muir Wind Farm and developers, Banks Renewables.
Kype Muir and the neighbouring Kype Muir Extension are set to deliver community benefits equating to more than £770,000 each year in funding made available to surrounding community projects and groups that benefit local people.
Both sites hold a total of 41 turbines which have a combined installed generating capacity of over 150MW of electricity per annum. This is enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 100,000 homes, or more than 200,000 people.
To find out more about the Kype Muir Wind Farm Community Fund visit: https://www.banksgroup.co.uk/kype
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