Stockton University of the third age members discussing future energy challenges

July 20, 2012 | Community News

Students from the Stockton University Of The Third Age (U3A) have been learning about the workings of onshore wind farms at a special presentation from a north east renewable energy firm. 

Banks Renewables’ development relations coordinator Barry Grimes addressed members of U3A Stockton’s Applied Science group on how the company designs the schemes that it puts forward, the community benefits that result from their construction and the role that onshore wind is playing in addressing the energy challenges that will face the UK in the 21st century. 

Banks is the company behind the Lambs Hill wind farm, which will be located to the north west of Stockton and around three miles east of the A1(M), and for which planning approval was granted at the end of 2011. 

The Stockton U3A group has around 300 members, most of whom come from Thornaby, Stockton and the surrounding villages, and is celebrating its silver anniversary this year. 

The group aims to aid the advancement of the education of retired people, and its sub-groups provide a regular forum for discussion of more than 20 topics, ranging from architecture, classical music and poetry through to genealogy, languages and history. 

Jim Wills, chairman of Stockton U3A, had dealt with the Banks Group through his work with Stillington Parish Council, and invited the company along to speak about their practical experiences of developing onshore wind farms. 

He says: “Our group is well versed in the principles of renewable energy, but invited Banks along to provide some more detailed information about how they’re applied in practice to generate renewable energy and take it away for public use. 

“Members of the Parish Council conducted their own visit to a working wind farm at Sedgefield, in order to listen for ourselves to the level of noise emission, but when we got to the site, we couldn’t hear the turbines for the noise of the passing traffic! 

“There was a lot of interest in what was going to be said at the event, which was reflected in the number of people that came along, and we were extremely impressed with the presentation that we received. 

“The charts that we saw were very comprehensive, and gave us a lot of fascinating information about how wind farms are designed and built, and how much energy is produced by a wind farm like that which will be built at Stillington.” 

The four-turbine Lambs Hill wind farm will produce enough power to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of up to 5,500 homes, and would prevent thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year that would otherwise be released with the production of the same amount of energy by non-renewable means.

Its construction will also provide a significant boost for the Teesside economy through the local supply chain, with up to 30 people being employed on site during the construction process.

Contracts worth around £1million will be available to tender for local firms for the ‘balance of plant’ work required for the scheme’s construction, as well as other aspects of the project, including materials supply catering, accommodation and security. 

A related benefits fund worth around £10,000 every year – or approximately £250,000 across the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm – will also 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. 

Barry Grimes, adds: “It was a real pleasure to speak to such an engaged and interested audience about the work that Banks does in the onshore wind sector, and I hope I was able to provide some useful information to everyone that came along.

“The Lambs Hill wind farm will be an excellent example of the type of modern, efficient onshore wind farm that will help generate the energy that we all use in the future without producing any harmful carbon emissions, and its construction will also bring a range of commercial, community and employment benefits to the surrounding area.”

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