Community ownership dream can become reality if Birneyknowe wind farm is approved

November 30, 2016 | Birneyknowe News

Plans for a major community investment opportunity have been submitted by the developer behind the proposed Birneyknowe Wind Farm, which lies between Hawick and Bonchester Bridge.

Banks Renewables, recognised for its “Development with Care” approach has committed to offering the community the opportunity to purchase up to 10 per cent of Birneyknowe Wind Farm, equivalent to owning 5.1MW of green power. This would make it one of the largest community owned renewables projects in the UK.

The offer would be made when all major risks have been removed and the project has secured funding to commence construction. To further support the community purchase, Banks Renewables has committed to offering a 25% community discount.

Colin Anderson, development director of Banks Renewables, said “Community ownership is a great way of increasing public participation in tackling a wide range of issues from how we provide the new cost-effective, clean, green and secure energy sources that the country needs right down to how we help to address the lack of services and opportunities facing people living in our rural areas.

“Banks Renewables has spent a lot of time considering how best to do this without exposing communities to undue financial risks. We think the commitment included within our recent Birneyknowe planning submission achieves this and creates an exciting opportunity for the people in this part of the Borders.”

Brian Renwick, who has been instrumental in the development of the sports facilities at the Volunteer Park area and knows the challenges facing community projects, said: “We are all aware of the challenges that face the community with ever decreasing budgets from local government.

“I like the concept of the community owning a share in an asset which could bring an annual income to be used for the projects that are important us. I think we have a responsibility to explore this opportunity for the development and sustainability of our community.

“For instance, if we needed to repair the roof of a facility, create a business development post to help regenerate the town or assist businesses in offering young Hawick men and women apprenticeships, we should look into any possibility for local funding.”

The community ownership offer is just part of a comprehensive package of proposals that would deliver long lasting socio-economic benefits for the area should Birneyknowe Wind Farm get the go ahead. This was included in the submission of Further Environmental Information (FEI) to Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government.

Colin added, “With the submission of the FEI, we can hopefully move quickly to positive determination of the planning application for Birneyknowe Wind Farm. The feedback and support from local people and the many groups and businesses in the area that we have spoken to over a number of years supports our belief in the project. It is now up to Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Government to make the decision.

To find out more about the proposed Birneyknowe Wind Farm please click here

If you wish to support Birneyknowe Wind Farm and to bring new investment, jobs and more clean, green, renewable energy to the Scottish Borders, please click here

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