Chamber of Commerce backs economic and employment benefits of Windy Bank wind farm

December 17, 2014 | Renewables News

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The North East’s leading business membership organisation has backed the positive economic and employment impact that the implementation of plans for a new wind farm in Teesdale would bring to the area.

The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) has written to Durham County Council to express its support for proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would be located to the north of the village of Woodland.

County Durham-based Banks Renewables is looking to invest over £16m in the four-turbine scheme, the plans for which have previously been backed by Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman.

The family-owned firm, which employs 420 people, 135 of whom live in County Durham, has committed to creating around 30 jobs during the site preparation and construction phases of the scheme, as well as to providing local firms with the opportunity to tender for a range of related contracts worth up to £3.5m for different aspects of the project, including construction, security, accommodation and catering.

NECC represents more than 4,000 businesses across the North East, including around 1,000 in County Durham.  Its members are drawn from all sizes of business across all sectors, and employ around 30% of the region’s workforce.

Jonathan Walker, head of member relations at NECC, says: “The UK needs to develop a sustainable mix of energy sources to meet both future demand and carbon reduction targets, and onshore wind developments such as Windy Bank will form a major part of the mix.

“Banks is a significant employer within County Durham and has a strong track record of working with local businesses on its various projects and providing substantial investment for community projects, and it has made clear commitments to continue this trend with the Windy Bank scheme.

“The County Council has identified the proposed Windy Bank site as a suitable location for a wind farm, and we would urge them to look favourably upon Banks’ proposals for it.”

Alongside the commercial and environmental benefits of the project, a community benefits fund worth around £70,000 every year, or up to £1.75m over the project’s 25-year lifespan, would also be facilitated by the wind farm’s construction, 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: “The Chamber’s support for this project is further validation of the tangible environmental, employment and economic benefits that the Windy Bank wind farm would bring to the area alongside the generation of clean, green indigenous energy.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from businesses in the area in being part of the Windy Bank project team if the scheme goes ahead, and the commercial opportunities it would provide would help to create and sustain much-needed local employment opportunities.

“We will continue to make what we believe is a strong case for an important project in a wholly suitable location, and hope that the County Council will agree with the Chamber’s view of what we’re proposing.”

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