Environmental enhancements for Bank Field wind farm site under discussion at second ecology event

August 21, 2013 | Renewables News

The environmental make-up of the site of a proposed new wind farm to the north of Guisborough has been under discussion at a second special open workshop.

Banks Renewables is looking to locate the proposed Bank Field scheme on agricultural land on the northern side of the A171, and has been collecting information from the site for the last year as part of the planning application development process.

In May this year, Banks held a day-long event which outlined and discussed what has been learnt from the ecological data that has been gathered at the site so far, as well as showing how environmental and habitat management plans had been developed and implemented at the company’s Bowesfield site in Stockton.

A follow-up event looking specifically at the environmental aspects of the project has now been held, and covered the environmental enhancements that might be made to the Bank Field site as part of the wind farm’s development, as well as revisiting some of the ideas raised at the first event.

Local organisations which attended the events include the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Teesmouth Bird Group and the Fight In Guisborough To Halt Turbines (FIGHT) group, which is campaigning against the project.

Jeremy Garside, chief executive at Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, who took part in both sessions, says: “Opening up this ecological assessment process to local interest groups and residents has helped to provide a wider understanding of the information that’s being gathered from the site, and we’ve been impressed by the inclusive way in which the Banks team has set this up.

“The Trust speaks the same technical language as Banks’ team of ecologists, which means we can get specific and detailed answers to our questions about the environmental benefits that could come out of the project, and we’ve been able to carefully scrutinise the data that they’ve been gathering.

“There was a lot of useful discussion during both sessions, and we look forward to seeing how things are taken forward from here.”

As well as generating substantial amounts of renewable energy, the Bank Field wind farm would also bring a range of other benefits to the local area, including around 40 new jobs during the construction phase of the project, commercial opportunities for local businesses worth around £3m, enhancements to the natural environment, additional habitats for wildlife in and around the site, and substantial funding for a range community and environmental projects.

The site has been identified as the most suitable landscape in the local area for renewable energy schemes of this type, and if the plans are approved, it would be the first renewable energy generation scheme of its type in the Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council area.

Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, adds: “It’s unusual for any wind farm developer to share this much data about a project that is in the design stage, but the Development With Care ethos under which Banks operates commits us to effective and transparent public engagement around all our projects.

“The comments we’ve received on the workshops from both the participating members of the community and the Banks design team has focused on how useful they all found them, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to be part of it.

“Design work is continuing on the Bank Field scheme, and we’ve been encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received so far about our plans from many local people who recognise the importance of generating more of the energy we use from renewable sources.”

Anyone who would like any further information about the proposed Bank Field scheme should contact the Banks Renewables’ community engagement team on 0844 209 1515 (local rate call on a BT landline) or please visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/bank-field

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