October 20, 2014 | Birneyknowe News
A ground-breaking new initiative proposed by a wind energy business could save local residents and rural employers hundreds of pounds on their energy costs. This initiative has been formulated in direct response to local community feedback.
Those living closest to the proposed site of a new community wind farm could be eligible for a contribution of up to £300 per year towards their electricity costs or to implement energy efficiency measures under the Community Energy Contribution Scheme, proposed by wind energy developer, Banks Renewables.
To help cut locals’ energy costs, cut CO2, and bring jobs and investment to the Scottish Borders go to http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/birneyknowe/ now!
Expression of Interest leaflets have recently been delivered to properties in the area, providing people with the opportunity to register their interest in the scheme.
So far 113 positive responses have been received, which equates to approximately one third of the eligible local households and businesses.
The initiative has been devised following feedback from residents living nearest to the site, who asked if having a renewable electricity generator in their community could result in reduced energy costs.
It will be rolled out as part of the Banks Renewables Community Partnership Fund if it gains approval for the proposed 15 turbine Birneyknowe Wind Farm, between Hawick and Bonchester Bridge.
As part of the community partnership a share of the wind farm revenues, totalling up to £7.5million over 25 years (£300,000 per annum), would be directed to support the priority projects agreed with the local community.
That means the £300,000 a year fund could be used to set up jobs and skills initiatives, improve local facilities, support local groups and organisations or deliver community-based environmental projects.
The Community Energy Contribution Scheme would see up to 30% of the Community Benefit Fund made available to reduce energy costs, which could be up to £90,000 a year.
The innovative scheme would work on a two-tier basis with bill-payers living within 4km of the site saving £150 and those within 2km saving £300 a year. The 4km area where properties can benefit are all within Hobkirk, Hawick, Denholm and District and Upper Teviotdale and Borthwick Water Community Council boundaries, therefore benefiting a wide range of local people.
Phil Dyke, director at Banks Renewables, said: “We’ve dedicated a lot of time to talk and listen to the community and the most common question from those living closest to the site was whether it would save them money on their energy costs.
“It made sense for us to address this by dedicating a portion of the wind farm community fund to these residents and businesses, thereby offering the local community which hosts the Birneyknowe project an opportunity to share in the benefit of the energy generated.
“This is the first time we have proposed this type of scheme in Scotland and it is just one of the many benefits the wind farm would bring, which we believe is why increasing numbers of local people and businesses are supporting our proposals.”
The initiative is the latest in a list of benefits for the local community outlined in Banks Renewables’ planning application, which was submitted to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit earlier this year .
The company also aims to improve access to jobs in the Hawick area, by providing local people and local employers with the ‘Learning Working Earning’ initiative – a new fund to boost training and workplace learning opportunities.
During the construction of the wind farm, there would also be a variety of opportunities for local firms to tender for contracts ranging from construction and maintenance to hospitality which will bring much needed jobs and pay packets to this Borders area.
More information on the Birneyknowe project can be found at: http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/birneyknowe/