October 21, 2014 | Community News
Plans to extend an approved wind farm development in South Lanarkshire have been backed by local residents at a recent set of public exhibitions.
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Hamilton-based, family firm, Banks Renewables, is proposing to increase the number of turbines on its Kype Muir Community Wind Farm from 26 to 44, potentially increasing the output by 72MW to 160.4MW.
Local residents attended the public exhibitions held in Sandford, Gilmourton, Stonehouse and Strathaven, to discuss the proposals with members of the Banks Renewables team and were also able to see a 3D projection of what the local area would look like if the plans are approved.
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, said: “We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to those local people who came along to the public exhibitions for their valuable contribution.
“It’s highly encouraging to see the community taking an interest in the proposals and it’s crucial that we hear what people living closest to the development think in order to help us move forward with our plans.
“Overall feedback was positive with locals generally in favour of our proposals and eager to find out more about how the extension plans could help to deliver community action plans, important local environmental projects and increase employment opportunities for people in the area.
“There was also great interest in our state of the art 3D computer generated model of the local area, which helped visitors to the exhibition to get a full appreciation of our proposals and an understanding of how the site would appear in the landscape.
“After listening to the views of local residents, as well as the many businesses and community groups we’ve also spoken to, this new proposal seems to be widely welcomed – particularly because it would maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community.”
Feedback from the public exhibitions was used to help shape the final planning application for the Kype Muir Community Wind Farm Extension, which was submitted to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit on 6 October 2014.
The approved Kype Muir Community Wind Farm will support a unique community partnership, with the communities to share the revenue generated by the wind farm, and to work with Banks Renewables and South Lanarkshire Council to maximise local benefits.
The partnership will result in direct support for local community action plans, which the community councils are currently developing.
Extending the approved Kype Muir Community Wind Farm will reduce the overall cost of generation by spreading the significant grid connection, access and aviation costs across a bigger project. In turn, and as a result of the community partnership approach adopted by Banks Renewables, this added value would be shared with the local communities.
This would mean that the communities would receive 4% of the revenue from Kype Muir Community Wind Farm Extension; estimated to total £21 million over the life of the project.
The communities’ revenue share of the combined project would be 2.5% – up from the 1.5% Banks Renewables was able to provide on Kype Muir Wind Farm alone. This would provide an estimated £33 million of community revenues from the combined project – which would make it one of the largest on shore wind farm community funds in the UK.
This revenue has already been earmarked towards the implementation of exciting community action plans being developed by the communities, thereby creating a permanent legacy for the area, as well as supporting a local training and employability project.
Banks Renewables is committed to supporting local people and businesses. The company is already liaising with local schools, colleges and employers to firm up its plans to increase the opportunities for local people to get into training or employment.
Colin added, “If planning permission is granted we estimate there will be an extra £11 million that could go towards delivering local community action plans. The immediate opportunity however is to get as many local firms as possible involved in the delivery of the project. We are actively working with South Lanarkshire Council to develop the best approach to this and so far the response from local businesses has been fantastic.
“If we get this right it will provide a huge boost for the South Lanarkshire economy, as well as offering the communities’ the chance to deliver major regeneration and exciting community projects, without the fear that the funding will disappear. Kype Muir Extension takes the opportunity to another level, which may be unprecedented in its ambition.”
If approved, the extension to the Kype Muir Community Wind Farm would also make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by harnessing the power of wind to generate enough energy to power 38,000 homes.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs over 400 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.