Renewable energy developer Banks Renewables’ plans for a new £7.5m wind farm to the south east of Heysham have been approved by Lancaster City Council’s planning committee with an overwhelming majority.
Banks put forward proposals last year for the Heysham South wind farm, which will be situated on agricultural land to the south of the A683, around 1km to the south east of Heysham itself.
And after being recommended for approval by the Council’s officers, the 15 members of the planning committee voted in favour of the scheme by a majority of eleven to three, with one abstention.
The three-turbine Heysham South wind farm will produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of around 4,200 homes, and will prevent the release of around 8,475 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year that would occur through the production of the same amount of energy by non-renewable means.
Between ten and fifty people will be employed on the site at any one time during the site preparation and construction phases of the project, and local firms will be able to tender for contracts linked to all aspects of the wind farm’s development, from construction and materials supply through to accommodation, catering and security.
As part of the proposals, Banks Renewables will invest around £50,000 in creating a new Warm Zone scheme across the area in partnership with the Warm Zones community interest company.
Setting up a Warm Zone has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of improving the energy efficiency of the housing in a given area, and leads, on average, to benefits worth around £3million becoming available to people in the area.
This funding comes in the shape of grants for energy efficiency improvements that will increase a property’s energy rating and reduce their fuel bills, together with other related services that would help to lift them out of fuel poverty, which is defined as occurring when someone has to spend more than ten per cent of their income on heating their property adequately.
Research carried out by the Department of Energy & Climate Change found that almost one in four households (24%) in the Lancaster District are in fuel poverty, and with energy prices continuing to rise, more and more people in the area are in danger of falling into this category.
The introduction of the Warm Zone scheme will create a number of new jobs in the area, including doorstep assessors and administrative positions, and local contractors will also be able to bid for the installation work required for the recommended energy efficiency measures.
In addition to the Warm Zone funding, a benefits fund worth at least £10,000 per annum will be funded through revenues from the wind farm, and will be used by Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people.
Banks has established itself as one of the UK’s leading developers in the wind farm sector, and has a number of completed and ongoing projects at various stages of development across the north of England and Scotland.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “We are very pleased that Lancaster City Council’s planning committee members have followed the advice of the council’s officers in supporting our planning application.
“In addition to generating significant amounts of renewable energy, which will make a major contribution towards the local renewables targets, the Heysham South Wind Farm will also bring a range of other benefits to the local area, from new jobs and commercial opportunities for local businesses through to funding for a range of community improvements.
“We’re very grateful for the support that we’ve had from local people for this scheme, as well as the backing we received from Middleton, Overton and Heaton-with-Oxcliffe Parish Councils, and will now look to move the project forward as quickly as we can.”