Dearne Valley Eco-Schools project takes classroom outdoors with Marr wind farm site visit

July 13, 2012 | Community News

Pupils from eight schools across the Dearne Valley have been taking a closer look at a new wind farm in their area as part of a project designed to help local young people learn about sustainable living.

Around 50 students from seven local primary schools and one secondary school took a tour of the site of the Marr Wind Farm, which is located on land to the west of junction 37 of the A1M, as part of their work with the Dearne Valley Eco-Schools Project.

The project aims to give children in the area the chance to learn about all aspects of sustainable development, and gives them the knowledge they need to start to reduce their own environmental impact, as well as the wider environmental impact of their school.

The scheme, which is funded by the Regional Improvement & Efficiency Program (RIEP) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has proved extremely popular in the area, with almost all of the primary and secondary schools in the Dearne Valley signing up to take part, and the Marr site visit was designed to give pupils a first-hand look at how a renewable energy scheme operates.

The visit was hosted by Lewis Stokes and James Connelly of developer Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group, who explained how the wind farm was developed and built, why the turbines are shaped as they are, how the wind farm generates electricity and how this electricity is then transmitted to the National Grid and distributed around the country.

The children will follow up on their visit through classroom work and topic sheets, and Dearne Valley Eco-Schools project coordinator Oliver Hutchinson believes living so close to a working wind farm will be extremely useful to the children’s studies.

He says: “Tackling environmental issues always gets a very positive response from all the children taking part – there’s a real awareness of and interest in the sustainable living topics that we cover, and getting direct experience through visits such as this really brings the subject alive.

“The children were really impressed by what they saw at the wind farm and the information they gathered on the day will prove very useful in their future classroom work.”

Stephen Coddington, teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, from which four children were on the Marr visit, adds: “The children were astounded by the facts and figures and were extremely knowledgeable when presenting this information during a whole school assembly following on from their visit.

“It is always important for the children to visit and experience key features of their immediate locality first hand, particularly the Marr wind farm, as they continue to develop themes of ecology and sustainability within their school community.

“This local landmark has become something of a talking point, so the children will hopefully be able to pass on their knowledge of the wind farm to their family and friends.”

Banks has invested around £10m in the four-turbine Marr Wind Farm, which can produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of around 5,000 homes, and will prevent over 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere every year which would otherwise be released with the production of the same amount of electricity using fossil fuel power generation.

An associated benefits fund worth more than £8,000 every year – or around £200,000 across the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm – will enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people, to help ensure tangible, long-term benefits result from the company’s presence in the area.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, adds: “Giving young people the chance to learn about the environmental and energy supply issues that they will face during their lifetimes is an extremely valuable undertaking, and we were very happy to be able to help out by hosting this visit.

“The Marr wind farm has quickly become part of the local landscape, and we’ve had a lot of positive comments from local people in the surrounding area.

“Onshore wind farms have a crucial role to play in helping to produce more of the clean, green energy that we all need from renewable sources, and the revenues that the Marr scheme will generate through its lifetime for community projects will also mean that it will make a positive difference to the local area for decades to come.”

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