Economic importance of North East infrastructure projects highlighted as Hall Construction backs Windy Bank wind farm plans

January 22, 2015 | Renewables News

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The importance of major construction and infrastructure projects to County Durham’s long-term economic and employment prospects should be a key consideration in regional development planning matters.

That’s the view of long-established Rushyford firm Hall Construction Ltd, which has written to Durham County Council in support of the planning application that Banks Renewables has put forward for the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would be located to the north of the village of Woodland in Teesdale.

Founded in 1982, Hall Construction has grown to become a successful building and civil engineering company which employs 300 people.

Around 130 of its staff either live in County Durham or are working on local projects, and approximately 80 per cent of its work comes from projects within the southern half of the North East.

Hall Construction has worked with Banks Group on a number of renewable energy, property development and surface mining schemes in the past, and will be looking to tender for work on the Windy Bank scheme if it goes ahead.

Tim Barrick, business development manager at Hall Construction, says: “The regional construction industry has obviously endured some difficult times lately, and while we’ve managed to broadly retain a consistent workforce through this period, the sector has clearly become much more competitive and compressed.

“Working on major projects such as Windy Bank in our own area means that the money invested in them stays in the North East, which is not only good for our company and the wider North East economy, but also for other local businesses that benefit from the spending that comes from wages and supply chain investments.

“The Windy Bank scheme would have a big impact for us in helping to protect and sustain the jobs and family incomes we provide for dozens of local people, and our experience of working with Banks means that we know both the high standards to which they operate and what they expect from their contractors.”

Banks is looking to invest over £16m in the four-turbine Windy Bank wind farm, which has been supported by 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 for different aspects of the project, including construction, security, accommodation and catering.

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 Durham-based Banks Renewables, adds: “The Windy Bank Wind Farm would provide a substantial boost to the local economy through the wages for both Banks Group employees and for the employees of local businesses in our supply chain and the local spending that comes from them and the equipment and materials orders we place.

“We have committed to using locally-based suppliers for the Windy Bank scheme wherever possible, and have had a lot of interest in the project from a wide variety of businesses in the area who see the project as a real opportunity.

“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.”

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