September 10, 2014 | Community News
A community wind farm project is set to give young unemployed people in East Ayrshire the opportunity to acquire vital training to improve their chances of getting into work.
Hamilton based firm, Banks Renewables, has signed an agreement with Netherthird Community Action Training (NCAT), which would result in a five-year contract creating 60 new traineeships for local people.
NCAT is a social enterprise that provides a range of traineeships to 17-24 year olds not in education, employment or training. The trainees would undertake landscape management, habitat creation, general groundworks and land management duties on Banks Renewables’ proposed High Cumnock Community Wind Farm, should the plans be given the go ahead.
Jamie Campbell, 24, founder of NCAT, said: “The proposed partnership with Banks Renewables is an extremely exciting opportunity for us.
“As a former mining community, this area has been hit hard by unemployment in recent years with a real lack of opportunities for young people to access employment.
“To address this we kick started our training programme, with funds from The Coalfield Regeneration Trust but unfortunately this pot is now starting to dry up so we are in desperate need of another source of funding.
“We were therefore delighted when Banks came to us to discuss the contract for land management of its planned High Cumnock Wind Farm as this really could help secure the future of our training programme.”
Banks Renewables is awaiting a decision from East Ayrshire Council on the planned eight turbine wind farm between Cumnock and New Cumnock, which has secured overwhelming local support following over two years of community consultation.
Should the application be approved an estimated £5 million worth of contracts will be available to local companies for the initial construction; with the project expected to result in around £33 million being pumped into the area over the life of the High Cumnock Community Wind Farm.
Jamie added: “This contract could mark a real milestone in the history of NCAT, ensuring that it can continue to help local youngsters further their skills for many more years to come.
“So far the scheme has funded around 20 young people with 80% of those going on to further employment and education once they have completed the course.
“Although our course is aimed at developing landscape management techniques, importantly all of our trainees learn a range of general skills including time keeping and communication that can be transferred to any working environment.
“This has been reflected by the high success rate of our trainees who go on to further employment or education which the contract from Banks could help sustain for the future.
“I have been highly impressed by the efforts Banks has already made within the local community, gaining feedback from members on their plans and helping out other local projects such as the community garden.
“It’s refreshing to see a company, taking responsible steps like this and I hope the wind farm will be approved as it will be a truly exceptional asset that could make a genuine difference to the people who live in the surrounding areas.”
The measures taken by Banks to support the local economy and businesses operating in the area have been warmly welcomed and alongside the Banks Community Partnership Offer, have led to overwhelming support for the project.
This partnership will result in an estimated £4.8Million of community revenues being generated by the project which can directly support the implementation of community actions plans developed by the surrounding communities.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “The Netherthird Community Action Training (NCAT) scheme is exactly the type of programme that we strive to support with our community wind farms.
“With a success rate of 80%, this agreement should result in 48 young people from the surrounding villages and towns ending up in long term employment, with another 12 having improved their prospects.
“It really is therefore a fantastic opportunity to create a positive, lasting legacy in the community, over and above the host of other benefits this unique community focussed project will bring if it gets the go ahead.”