November 8, 2011 | Community News
Independent research into the views of people in the communities surrounding the site of a proposed new wind farm in South Lanarkshire has found a high level of support for the plans.
Hamilton-based Banks Renewables, part of The Banks Group, submitted a planning application for the £108million Kype Muir Wind Farm to the Scottish Government earlier this year.
As part of the continuing public engagement process surrounding the proposals, Banks commissioned an independent market research firm to carry out a telephone survey of households in and around the area, to find out more about local residents’ views of the Kype Muir scheme.
Almost 1,000 residents responded to the survey, which revealed that a little less than half (44%) of them were in favour of the plans and just over a third (37%) held a neutral opinion about them.
Fewer than one in five survey respondents (19%) said they were against the scheme, and more than 300 of those who backed the plans also said they willing to express their support for the wind farm to the Scottish Government and South Lanarkshire Council.
The proposed Kype Muir Wind Farm site sits in a designated search area for renewable energy schemes, and lies over 3kms south of Strathaven and more than 7km west of Lesmahagow, on land that is currently predominantly used for commercial forestry.
After completing a range of site assessments, undertaking extensive public consultation and reviewing different design options, Banks put forward plans to build a 26-turbine wind farm which would have an installed capacity of up to 104MW, which would be enough to meet the annual energy requirements of approximately 50,000 homes.
Around 50 people would be working on site during the construction of the Kype Muir project, with Banks looking to put tenders worth around £17m out to the Scottish construction industry to complete this work.
Banks has committed to gifting a share of the project revenues to the community if the proposal is approved, which would be delivered with the support of South Lanarkshire Council and the involvement of local community councils.
This would provide around £6.5million of funding over the 25-year lifetime of the scheme for local community groups, environmental and voluntary projects, in order to facilitate tangible, long-term benefits for all sections of the community from Banks’ presence there.
The survey also asked local people how they thought this money might best be allocated, with ideas including amenities for children and young people, regeneration projects, new sports facilities and recreational amenities for the whole community being amongst the most popular suggestions.
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, says: “The results of our research are clearly extremely encouraging, and they prove that there is real community support for a scheme that it is recognised would bring a wide range of benefits to the local area, in addition to the significant amounts of renewable energy it would produce.
“From creating new employment opportunities and commercial openings for Scottish businesses through to providing substantial funding for projects that could help transform the facilities that local people are able to enjoy for decades to come, this scheme has so much potential to make a hugely positive impact across local communities.
“The opinions that this survey reveals suggests that the lengths we have gone to over the last two years to work with local people around the design of the Kype Muir scheme, to listen to their queries and ideas, and to develop a planning application that is environmentally acceptable for its location has been very worthwhile for all parties involved.
“Scotland is continuing to take the lead in recognising the importance of generating increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources, and we hope that the many merits of the Kype Muir scheme will be recognised when it is reviewed by the Scottish Government.”
The Scottish Government is expected to make a decision on the planning application by summer 2012. Anyone looking for further information on the Kype Muir proposal can contact the Banks project team on 0844 209 1515 (local rate number from a BT line) or via firstname.lastname@example.org