July 10, 2012 | Community News
Hamilton-based developer Banks Renewables is delighted with the feedback generated through a series of public exhibitions held in East Ayrshire.
Over 60 members of the local community attended the three events in Cumnock, New Cumnock and Kelloholm in June to give their thoughts and opinions on two proposed wind farm sites at High Cumnock and Lethans.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks, said: “The number of people who came to the exhibitions was fantastic and we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to them for making each event so worthwhile.
“Everyone who attended gave us fantastic insight into issues important to local people and businesses and the amount of feedback we received was huge.
“Exhibitions help begin the process of meaningful and effective consultation with the local community, a dialogue which continues for the duration of our projects.”
Under its development with care approach, Banks Renewables works with the local communities surrounding its wind farms, in order to build lasting relationships and ensure their developments leave a lasting positive legacy in the area.
As part of this they have developed a community benefits package, which will allow them to set up a fund to support local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations from the revenue created by the wind farm.
Through its engagement with the local community at events such as public exhibitions, Banks is able to explain their proposals, listen to the views of local people, identify any areas of concern and ensure they work in partnership to agree where support from the community funds would be best placed.
Over the three days the exhibitions revealed that the overwhelming priority for the local area is tackling youth unemployment and the lack of skills and opportunities available to young people.
Mark added: “The lack of graduate opportunities in East Ayrshire has led to an increase in the number of graduates taking up available apprenticeships, and this was highlighted for us in our dialogue with local people.
“The consequence of this is less apprenticeships available for non-graduate school and college leavers, and this is an issue that the local community believes should be addressed.
“We hope to create transparent, sustainable relationships with local communities as they help us shape projects through their comments, queries and suggestions.
“By spending time developing our relationship with people living around the sites we can ensure that we leave a positive and lasting legacy for the local economy, environment and community.”
Robert Walker, 60, who lives and works locally and attended all three of the exhibitions, has been very supportive of Banks Renewables’ proposals and its drive to provide a viable source of green energy, which also provides benefits for local communities.
He said: “I am 100% in support of the wind farms; they are helping us reach renewable targets and creating much needed employment.
“There are currently very few jobs in East Ayrshire and many young people are out of work. Banks is offering new employment possibilities while providing East Ayrshire with a sustainable source of power – in my mind there is nothing which can be reproached.
“I have attended all of Bank’s exhibitions and they have engaged well with local people, listening to what they have to say and coming up with well thought out solutions.”
Banks Renewables has submitted scoping reports to East Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government for two separate wind farm sites; one at High Cumnock and one at Lethans.
The Lethans site proposes up to 39 turbines, each up to 140m high and the site at High Cumnock proposes up to 13 turbines, each up to 125m high.
Between them the sites would generate enough power to meet the annual electricity requirements of approximately 96,300 homes. Annually they’d displace around 194,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere that would otherwise be released if this electricity was produced from fossil fuel power generation.
An upcoming stage of Banks Renewables’ continued involvement with the local community will be to set up a community development panel inviting attendance from local residents, businesses and council representatives who are keen to ensure that the benefits from the wind farms – when up and running – reflect local desires and aspirations.
For more details please contact the Banks Renewables’ community relations team on 0191 378 6100 or via firstname.lastname@example.org