December 6, 2011 | Community News
Barlborough-based renewable energy firm Banks Renewables is looking to set up a Warm Zone scheme in the area, in partnership with the Warm Zones community interest company, which would deliver practical measures such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation into local homes in order to help to alleviate fuel poverty and improve domestic energy efficiency on a district-wide basis.
Setting up a Warm Zone scheme has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of improving the energy efficiency of the housing in a given area, and thus tackling 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.
Locations including Newcastle, North Staffordshire and Northumberland have already seen remarkable results through taking this approach, and Banks has pledged to provide an investment of £50,000 to set up a Warm Zone covering the whole of the Bolsover area if their proposal for a three turbine wind farm on land to the south of the town goes ahead.
Establishing a Warm Zone leads, on average, to benefits worth around £3million becoming available to people in the area, 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 the fuel poverty trap.
Banks has already successfully adopted this joined-up approach in South Yorkshire, where a Warm Zone has been set up in conjunction with the approval of the Penny Hill Wind Farm in Rotherham, and home energy audits are already being carried out in properties in the surrounding communities to identify the best ways in which their energy efficiency might be improved.
Up to 50 people could be employed through the Warm Zone scheme, thus delivering further tangible economic benefits to the communities around the proposed Losk Lane wind farm.
Banks is looking to make an £11.4million investment in the Losk Lane wind farm, which would be situated on land to the north of Glapwell, approximately two miles to the east of the M1 motorway.
The scheme would consist of three turbines with a maximum tip height of 125m, and would have an installed capacity of up to 7.5MW, which is enough to meet the annual power requirements of up to 4,200 homes.
In addition to Banks’ Warm Zone investment, a benefits fund would also make around £200,000 of funding available to local voluntary groups, community organisations and environmental projects over the 25-year lifetime of the scheme, in order to provide tangible long-term benefits for the community from Banks’ presence in the area.
Up to 30 people would be employed on the site at any one time during the site preparation and construction phases of the project, alongside those employed through the Warm Zone scheme itself.
Local businesses would be able to tender for contracts related to the construction of the wind farm worth around £4million.
Banks is one of the UK’s leading developers in the wind farm sector, and has a number of similar completed and ongoing projects at various stages of development across the north of England and Scotland.
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 in this way is part of Banks’ long-term policy for ensuring that local people gain tangible, long-term advantages from our presence.
“At a time where escalating fuel costs are making finances very tight for a lot of families, we believe that the Warm Zone scheme that the Losk Lane wind farm would fund would make a real difference for thousands of people across the area.
“Several areas around the UK are already enjoying the benefits of an established Warm Zone scheme, with more energy efficiency homes, lower fuel bills, a reduction in excess winter-related deaths and job creation all arising as a result of its implementation.
“Managing rising domestic energy costs is a pressing issue for everyone these days, and the funding we would provide for the Warm Zone scheme adds yet another tangible dimension to the community benefits that would result if the Losk Lane wind farm is approved.”
Bolsover District Council’s planning committee is expected to consider the Losk Lane planning application before the end of the year. Anyone who would like more information on the scheme can contact the Banks community team on 0844 209 1515 (local rate call) or email firstname.lastname@example.org