September 12, 2014 | Birneyknowe News
Borders residents have shown their backing for a proposed wind farm in the area, with 106 letters of support received by the wind energy firm behind the proposal.
Members of the community who have backed the plans believe the list of potential benefits the project would offer could have an extremely positive impact on the area and have also been impressed by Banks Renewables commitment to working with the community.
The Hamilton based firm say they have designed their plans for the 15 turbine Birneyknowe Wind Farm, between Hawick and Bonchester Bridge, around the community and have been enthused by the amount of support received to date.
Andrew Haddon, a former College Principal from Denholm, said: “There is no silver bullet when it comes to climate change but wind farms will certainly play a crucial role in supporting the government’s ambitions to try and reduce carbon emissions.
“As long as wind farms are sensitively designed, and are located in suitable areas, they can be a valuable asset to local communities.
“I’ve attended the public exhibitions that have been organised by Banks Renewables and was highly impressed by how clearly and thoughtfully information was presented, helping local people get a full understanding of how the site may be developed.
“It was also fantastic to discover more about how the community could benefit from the investment as there have been fewer major developments of this scale take place in the Scottish Borders in recent years.”
Chris Levell, a semi-retired gardener from Bonchester, agreed.
He said: “I’ve been backing the wind farm plans from the start as I think renewable energy is essential. I’m not sure if wind farms are the full solution to the energy crisis but they are certainly part of the solution, so to me that’s the most important thing.
“Then on top of that there is the amount of money that would be injected into the area. The Borders is not a particularly affluent area and we definitely need to improve the levels of employment in the area, therefore these sorts of projects will help.”
Chris resigned from his post as head of Hobkirk Community Council earlier this year and had previously been liaising with the team from Banks Renewables regarding their plans.
He added: “I was extremely impressed by the professionalism of the Banks staff and their commitment to work with the community. I have dealt with other wind farm developers who are not nearly as easy to work with and don’t put in nearly as much effort as Banks. It’s like night and day when you compare them to the other firms”
During an intensive two year period of public consultation local people told Banks Renewables there was a void in employment and training opportunities in the area. The firm recently announced plans to improve access to jobs in the Hawick area, by providing local people and local firms with a new fund to boost training and workplace learning opportunities.
In addition to the creation of training opportunities the community fund which could generate up to £300,000-a-year for the local area could also deliver direct funding into community groups, voluntary organisations and environmental projects.
Another local resident backing the wind farm plans is Nicholas Ewart, a retired farmer who has lived and worked in the area for almost all his life and still stays at the Acreknowe farmhouse, roughly five miles from the Birneyknowe site.
He said: “Any viable way to create renewable energy needs to be explored and embraced.
“I know some people are objecting as they say it will have a visible impact, but there are a lot worse things to see in the countryside than wind turbines and we’re not even talking about very many, so I can’t really see the problem.
“Banks seem very open and clear about their plans, which include a number of economic benefits for the area, like increased employment, so it’s definitely something I’m supporting.”
Andy Maybury, from Hawick, said: “There have been copious meetings to discuss the plans with Banks and it’s encouraging to see how they have modified the layout of the wind farm to reduce some concerns.
“Ultimately we have got to ensure that our children have got enough energy to work and live and I think some people haven’t quite grasped how serious the current energy situation is.
“Instead they have been focusing on the potential visibility of the site although the turbines won’t be seen from many residences at all.”
During the construction of the wind farm, there will be a variety of opportunities for local firms to tender for contracts ranging from construction and maintenance to hospitality.
Phil Dyke, director at Banks Renewables, said: “We continue to hear a lot of positive verbal feedback from residents and this is reflected by the 106 people who took the time to enter a note of support.
“We’ve dedicated a lot of time to talk and listen to the community therefore I am absolutely delighted to see this kind of feedback. We’d encourage others who are in favour of our proposals to make their voices heard to the councillors and planning officials who will make the decision on whether the wind farm is given the go-ahead.”
To register your support for the proposed Birneyknowe Wind Farm visit http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/birneyknowe/