October 19, 2011 | Community News
Local apprenticeship training could receive a £375,000 funding boost if plans for a new wind farm to the north east of Darlington are approved.
County Durham firm Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group, has put forward proposals for the six turbine Moor House wind farm, which would be sited on land to the north east of Barmpton, around three miles to the east of the A1.
Banks’ proposals already include a community benefits fund offering £375,000 of funding for community groups and local good causes during the lifetime of the scheme, in order to provide tangible benefits for the community from Banks’ presence there.
Now, as an extension to the long-term positive impact that the Moor House scheme would have on the local area, Banks has pledged to make the same amount of funding available to part-fund apprenticeships for local young people and businesses if the wind farm gets the green light.
The new funding equates to £15,000 every year for 25 years.
The Moor House scheme, which is a kilometre away from Barmpton and more than two kilometres from the next nearest village, would involve a £17.5million investment by Banks. It would have an installed capacity of up to 15MW, and would be able to produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual power requirements of approximately 8,400 homes.
It would also provide a major boost for the regional economy, with regional businesses able to tender for contracts worth up to £4.5million during the site development and construction phases of the scheme.
Banks’ planning application is set to be reviewed by Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee on Wednesday 19 October.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “Sharing the benefits of the schemes that we operate with the communities in which they are situated is part of Banks’ long-term policy for ensuring that people living in these areas gain tangible, long-term advantages from our presence there.
“The Moor House wind farm proposals already offer a wide range of benefits for many different elements of the surrounding area, from the contracts for which local firms will be able to bid and jobs that will be created on site through to the ‘green’ energy it would produce and the substantial community benefits fund that is associated with it.
“At a time when the public purse is so stretched, making private sector resources available in this way can only be beneficial for both the local young people who are looking to develop the skills they will need for their future careers and the businesses that are looking to take them on.
“We have a lot of ideas for how we might support the strong regional drive to increase the number of apprenticeships available and thus help improve the long-term employment prospects of a generation of local young people.
“A great deal of emphasis is being placed by regional and national Government on the crucial role that apprenticeships have to play in building a sustainable economic recovery, and this inventive use of the revenues that would be generated by the Moor House wind farm would add even more momentum to this hugely important cause.”