April 24, 2013 | Community News
Here at Banks Renewables we have delayed the next stage of a highly-anticipated wind farm project – to make way for the lambing season.
The planning application for our Quixwood Moor wind farm was approved earlier this month (Apr 13) by Borders Council, but the next stage of the ongoing community engagement will be postponed to accommodate the needs of the local farming calendar.
A series of local community meetings were due to be held as soon as the project was approved however, our staff immediately spotted the clash of dates.
Phil Dyke, director at Banks Renewables said: “Obtaining planning permission has been a massive milestone for us and obviously we are all keen to take the wind farm project to the next stage.
“But we immediately realised that we were at the start of the lambing season, which is hugely important to the local community. It’s a demanding and exhausting time for the farming community across the Scottish Borders.
“We have always listened to local communities, so we’d be failing them if we didn’t pay attention to one of the most important periods in the local calendar.
“It’s natural that after the years of hard work that have gone in to getting the wind farm approved, our team is enthusiastic to start the next phase of work. But we’re happy to put that on hold so the lambing season can pass smoothly.
“We are hoping that will give local people and businesses the time they need, so that they are in the best possible frame of mind when we start the next phase of community consultation.”
The first meeting with two local community councils – one representing Grantshouse, the other covering Abbey St Bathans, Preston and Bonkle – will now be scheduled for late May.
From there, we hope to arrange regular community updates to discuss the construction process, access to the site and the mechanism for administration of the community’s share of the annual income generated.
The wind farm will deliver a minimum of £104,000 per year into a community benefit fund plus a community partnership payment which will add to this figure.
Similar projects we have delivered have resulted in job creation initiatives, provision of community infrastructure, delivery of major environmental projects and direct funding into community groups.
Phil Dyke added: “There is plenty to discuss with the community, not least the mechanics of the community benefit package that will be funded by the Quixwood Wind Farm to make sure that we agree with the local community their priorities for projects that should be supported.
“Our aim is to place all major construction contracts and commence on site work within the next 12-18 months, so we also want to ensure construction at the site causes the minimum impact for local individuals and businesses.”
Another crucial aspect will be to ensure local businesses and contractors know about the opportunities available to them, and we estimate contracts totalling £6.5million will be available for Borders companies during the construction phase.
The Quixwood Moor project will comprise 13 turbines with 10 at 115m and three at 100m. It is expected to have an electricity generation capacity of up to 29.9MW throughout its 25 year lifespan.
Last year Banks Renewables sponsored the Scottish leg of the National Sheep Dog Trials near Strathven, South Lanarkshire, with the successful event attracting more than 2000 visitors over three days.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 400 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.