North East business leaders back Windy Bank wind farm plans

February 4, 2015 | Renewables News

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Two more of the North East’s leading business organisations have 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 arms of the CBI and The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have both written to Durham County Council to express support for the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would be located to the north of the village of Woodland in an area previously identified by the Council as appropriate for this type of development.

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 and the North East Chamber of Commerce.

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.

A community benefits fund worth around £70,000 every year, or up to £1.75m over the project’s 25-year lifespan, would also follow from the wind farm’s construction, and Banks has been developing new measures that might use this money 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.

Dianne Sharp, CBI regional director – North East, says: “Tackling our energy and climate change challenges in a smart way will ensure that the UK is greening and growing for the future.

“As the recovery continues, all minds should be focused on how to build a more prosperous and competitive UK economy, and delivering secure, affordable and low-carbon energy will be crucial in achieving this, both now and in the future.

“The Windy Bank Wind Farm will both bring significant investment to the area, and create additional, vital employment, and we fully support this application.”

Phil Pallent of the North East FSB, adds: “In order to protect the environment, reduce the UK carbon footprint in line with international obligations, and ensure we have security of supply, we need more renewable energy schemes in suitable locations in the UK.

“The Windy Bank Wind Farm has the potential to benefit the members of the FSB in many ways, including opening up new supply chain opportunities, providing a seven-figure boost to the local economy and supporting the investment required to take on apprentices who might make a long-term difference to many small and medium-sized businesses’ success.

“The community funding linked to this scheme also offers the area a chance to address a number of pressing local needs, identified by local people, such as skills development, leisure facilities for children and young people and services for the elderly that might otherwise not receive the attention they require.”

Miles Crossley, senior business development manager at Banks Renewables, says: “The support from the CBI and FSB clearly acknowledges the importance of the range of environmental, employment and economic benefits that the Windy Bank wind farm would bring to the area alongside the generation of clean, green indigenous energy.

“The project would provide significant commercial opportunities for firms in the local supply chain, and our commitment to buying locally wherever possible would help to create and sustain much-needed employment opportunities in the area.”

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