April 4, 2012 | Community News
Families and businesses across East Ayrshire are to be consulted over new wind farm plans by a company which has built a reputation for its considerate approach to development.
Banks Renewables is organising a series of public exhibitions where it will showcase outline plans for two wind farm sites at High Cumnock and Lethans.
The events, running during June, will kick off an extensive public consultation process, with the Banks Renewables team taking on board all feedback from the communities around the proposed sites.
Colin Anderson, director of Banks Renewables, said: “Our development with care philosophy is fundamental to everything we do. We’ve already held some really constructive discussions with the community councils in the area and now we’re looking forward to hearing from as many local people as possible.
“Getting planning permissions for a wind farm is only part of what we do. It is vital that we develop strong partnerships with the local communities around our developments to ensure local families and businesses derive long lasting benefits from their local wind farm.”
Banks Renewables is known for developing innovative community funding packages alongside its developments across the UK. These always target local issues as identified by local people; this has resulted in job creation initiatives, provision of community infrastructure, delivery of major environmental projects and direct funding into community groups.
Community funding packages related to a Banks Renewables wind farm run for the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm, with communities deciding where that funding is directed.
Feedback from the meetings held with the community councils has highlighted the lack of employment and training opportunities as a major issue locally. As a result Banks is already considering the possibility of setting up or backing dedicated education and training schemes.
Colin added: “There is an exhaustive process to ensure a site is suitable for a wind farm and both of these sites are promising. We are optimistic that, by partnering with the local community, we can deliver wind farms which benefit the environment as well as local people and local businesses.”
Both proposed sites are on heavily-forested land to the east of Cumnock. They are around 5km apart and will be the subject of separate planning applications. The Lethans proposal is for up to 34 turbines, each up to 142m high. The proposal at High Cumnock could accommodate 10 turbines, each125m high.
Between them the sites would generate enough power to meet the annual electricity requirements of 75,000 homes. Annually they’d remove around 152,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere that would be released producing that energy by non-renewable means.
The times and venues for the public events are still being finalised, but are likely to be held in New Cumnock, Cumnock and in Kirkconnel and Kelloholm. Full details will be announced as soon as possible.
Colin said: “We are at the very beginning of this process and the plans we’ve drawn up are purely a starting point for what we hope will be a really positive discussion with local people. We are committed to listening to the views of local people and local businesses and these will shape the plans that go into future planning applications.”
These wind farms would provide a huge boost for the regional economy through the local supply chain and the jobs created on site during the construction stage.
A team of experts in ecology, wildlife and environmental matters will be involved in fully assessing the proposed sites and will ensure that these are sensitively designed and enhance rather than damage the local environment.
Banks has extensive experience of successfully designing and developing renewable energy schemes across the UK and currently has three major Scottish wind farm applications in the planning system, all of which are expected to be determined this year.
Power generated by wind farms will help Scotland continue to enjoy the constant, reliable energy supply upon which our lifestyle depends – and have already reduced reliance on fossil fuels imported from unstable overseas markets.
Colin added: “The Scottish Government is firmly committed to producing all the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020. We hope these schemes will be a part of that, while also bringing jobs, opportunity and other very real long lasting benefits to the local communities.”
Details of the public exhibitions are being finalised and will be announced shortly. Anyone with queries about the scheme should contact the Banks Renewables’ community relations team on 0191 378 6100 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 380 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors. The company’s Development with Care approach underpins all its work, driving community consultation and environmental excellence.