June 17, 2013 | Community News
The Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, the Rt Hon Edward Davey MP, has been to visit the site of South Yorkshire’s newest wind farm.
Mr Davey took a tour of the new £21.9m Penny Hill wind farm, which is located to the south east of Rotherham and west of the junction of the M1 and M18, alongside representatives of the Barlborough-based business behind the scheme, Banks Renewables.
And he also met representatives of the local community to discuss their views of the wind farm and the benefits that it is bringing to the area.
The six-turbine Penny Hill scheme began generating renewable energy earlier this year, and is now making a significant contribution towards meeting Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s renewable energy targets.
It represents Banks’ third major investment in renewable energy in Yorkshire, following the now-operational Marr and Hazlehead wind farms near Doncaster and Barnsley respectively, and takes its total installed capacity in the county up to over 34MW.
The Penny Hill Wind Farm was recently named as the winner of the ‘Built Environment – Projects Over £1m’ category at the fourth annual Yorkshire Post Environment Awards.
Banks also has a number of other wind farms across Yorkshire at different stages of development, as well as several others elsewhere in both northern England and Scotland.
Around 30 jobs were created directly on site through the construction of the Penny Hill scheme, with related contracts worth over £1.1m awarded to businesses across Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
The associated Penny Hill benefits funds, which will be worth over £750,000 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.
And Banks has already invested a further £50,000 to help establish a Warm Zone scheme across the Rotherham area, which is already delivering practical measures such as cavity wall insulation and loft insulation into local homes in order to help to alleviate fuel poverty and improve domestic energy efficiency on a district-wide basis.
Setting up a Warm Zone has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of improving the energy efficiency of the housing in a given area, and the Rotherham project is expected to bring benefits worth around £2 million in the area through grants for energy efficiency improvements that will increase a property’s energy rating and reduce their fuel bills, as well as with other related services that would help to lift people out of fuel poverty.
Rt Hon Ed Davey MP says: “I am delighted to have visited the Penny Hill wind farm, which has created jobs and delivered a range of community and environmental benefits in partnership with local people.
“We remain committed to the deployment of appropriately-sited onshore wind as a key part of a diverse, low-carbon and secure energy mix.”
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, adds: “We were extremely pleased to welcome the Secretary of State to our Penny Hill Wind Farm, and believe that the way in which it has been developed, built and now operates provides a model of best practice for the industry.
“The community-focused approach to onshore wind farm development that was outlined recently by the government mirrors the industry-leading way in which Banks has operated for many years.
“We work closely with people living in the communities around our proposed wind farm sites to identify their priorities for utilising the benefits funds that run alongside our wind farms, so that tangible long-term benefits arise locally from their construction.
“This model has proved very successful, and as well as facilitating these community benefits, it also helps to create local employment and wide-ranging commercial opportunities for the local suppliers with whom we chose to work.
“The most recent Department of Energy & Climate Change figures shows that wind power generated 5.5% of the UK’s electricity needs in 2012, compared to 4% in 2011, but there remains an increasingly pressing need for us to generate substantially more of the energy we all use from such indigenous renewable sources, and we’re extremely pleased to be playing our part in meeting this crucial objective.”