East Ayrshire wind farm to bring winds of change for 60 out of work youngsters

March 8, 2017 | Community News

60 New Paid Traineeships with Lethans Wind Farm

An East Ayrshire wind farm project is set to give young local unemployed people the opportunity to acquire vital training to improve their career prospects.

Hamilton based firm, Banks Renewables, has signed an agreement with Netherthird Community Action Training (NCAT), which would result in a five-year contract creating 60 new paid traineeships for local people, ranging from 4-8 week courses to year-long placements.

NCAT is a local social enterprise that provides a range of traineeships to 17-24 year olds not in education, employment or training. The trainees would undertake landscape management, habitat creation, general groundworks and land management duties on Banks Renewables’ proposed Lethans Wind Farm, should the plans be given the go ahead.

Jamie Campbell, 26, founder of NCAT, said: “The proposed partnership with Banks Renewables is an extremely exciting opportunity for us.

“As a former mining community, this area has been hit hard by unemployment in recent years with a real lack of opportunities for young people to access employment.

“An opportunity such as this with Banks Renewables would be tremendous for this area and would give a lifeline to so many young unemployed people, who just need this kind of opportunity to change their futures forever.”

The plans for the 22 turbine Lethans Community Wind Farm, situated east of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire will go to committee at the end of March, where East Ayrshire Council will determine its view on the application.

This comes after Banks submitted a further information to East Ayrshire Council following useful feedback from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the recent planned addition of aviation lighting to the turbines.

Jamie Campbell added: “The Lethans project could help to not only secure the future of our training programme, but give us real scope to expand or join with likeminded operations.

“So far the NCAT scheme has facilitated around 50 young people onto courses with 65 per cent of those going on to further employment and education once they have completed the course.

“Although our course is aimed at developing landscape management techniques, importantly all of our trainees learn a range of general skills including time keeping and communication that can be transferred to any working environment.”

If approved, Banks Renewables’ proposals also include giving the local communities the opportunity to buy up to a 5 per cent share in Lethans Wind Farm. Other benefits for the local community once the wind farm is operational include £250,000 towards new mountain biking facilities and a community fund worth around £8 million over the lifetime of the project.

Lewis Stokes at Banks Renewables, said: “We’re excited to bring forward the diverse range of benefits associated with our Lethans wind farm proposals and we are delighted to be able to work with NCAT.

“The Netherthird Community Action Training (NCAT) scheme is exactly the type of programme that we strive to support with our community wind farms and I really hope that we get a positive planning decision for this project, which will deliver huge socio-economic benefits for the people of this part of East Ayrshire.”

Banks Renewables believes its Lethans proposal is particularly strong due the remote nature of the site, the high wind speeds and the considered approach taken to site design, to ensure an acceptable appearance within the landscape setting.

The site also promises to create a welcome financial boost to the local economy, which has suffered in recent years due to the closure of its coal mines. It’s estimated that upwards of £15 million could flow into the area through local contracts delivering a variety of services, from aggregate supply to catering facilities.

Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs around 400 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.

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Jamie Campbell, 26, founder of NCAT, said: “The proposed partnership with Banks Renewables is an extremely exciting opportunity for us.

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