November 12, 2014 | Renewables News
The local business opportunities and community funding benefits linked to plans for a new wind farm in Teesdale has seen them win the backing of a local quarrying business.
Stainton Quarry is a thriving sandstone quarry situated in the village of Stainton near Barnard Castle, and supplies both the construction industry and private sector with a range of natural stone products including walling, masonry and aggregates.
The quarry reopened as an independent concern in 2010, enduring difficult times with the impact of recession on the construction industry, but a recent resurgence in UK building projects has allowed for investment in staff and machinery which has resulted in a significant upturn in the walling and aggregate manufacturing side of the business.
Now, managers at the firm have written to Durham County Council to support the planning application that County Durham-based Banks Renewables has put forward for the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would sit on agricultural land between the village of Woodland and the southern edge of Hamsterley Forest.
Tim McHale, safety & environmental manager at Stainton Quarry, who has lived in the area since childhood, says: “As a business situated in the Teesdale countryside, we’re closely involved with environmental matters, and firmly believe in keeping the countryside with which we’re blessed both picturesque and prosperous.
“Banks has a strong track record of using suppliers based in the communities around its schemes, which is something from which we would hope to benefit if this project goes ahead, and the employment that this project would help to create and sustain can only be positive news for our area.
“With more and more local groups finding funding hard to come by, and our parish councils not having much in the way of available capital to help them, the community benefits fund linked to the wind farm would be invaluable to the area.
“Making more use of renewable energy has to be part of the way in which we all live, both now and in the future, and we feel it’s right for our local council and MP to be supporting this kind of development to help secure and make good the future of both our local economy and the environment.”
Banks is looking to invest over £16m in the five-turbine Windy Bank wind farm, which recently won the support of Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman.
Around 30 jobs would be created during the site preparation and construction phases of the scheme, with local firms having the opportunity to tender for a range of related contracts worth up to £3.5m.
The associated community benefits fund would be worth around £70,000 every year, or up to £1.75m over the project’s 25-year lifespan, and Banks has been developing new measures to boost local employment opportunities, improve access to apprenticeships and enhance skills training.
Instigating work to tackle local domestic fuel poverty and energy efficiency issues has also been noted by people in the area as a possible area that could be supported by the fund.
Miles Crossley, senior business development manager at Banks Renewables, adds: “We’re grateful for the support we’ve had from both Stainton Quarry and the many other local businesses who’ve expressed an interest in working with us on the Windy Bank wind farm, and we hope we’ll get the chance to strengthen our relationships with them on this scheme.
“The Windy Bank community benefits fund would make a huge impact on the local community, both immediately and over the long term, and the proposals we’re developing have the potential to make new opportunities available that would otherwise almost certainly go unfunded.
“We strongly believe that this is the right location for a new wind farm, and that the many environmental, social and economic benefits it would bring to the area combine to make a powerful case for its approval.”