Considerate developer Banks Renewables has won backing from council planners for a wind farm which would provide around £8.9 million of funding for nearby rural communities.
The Hamilton-based company is a step closer to realising plans for a wind farm at Kype Muir, south of Strathaven after it was supported by South Lanarkshire Council.
A final decision on the 26 turbine development will be made by the Scottish Government consents unit, but the council’s backing is a significant milestone in the process.
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables said: “We are delighted the council has decided to support our application after a long and exhaustive process of assessing it.
“We don’t just create wind farms, we forge long-lasting partnerships with the communities where we operate to bring real opportunities and benefits to local families and businesses.
“If Kype Muir Wind Farm is given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government, as we hope it will be, South Lanarkshire Council will be an essential partner in supporting the local communities around Kype Muir deliver the major projects and local improvements they would like to see and are now made possible by the funding from their local wind farm.”
The fund outlined by Banks Renewables would be one of the most generous drawn up as part of a Scottish wind farm development and could deliver training and apprenticeship schemes to help up to 1000 local young people into work.
The firm is offering community funding of 1.5 per cent of the gross annual revenue from the wind farm – up to £8.9 million over the 25 year lifetime of the site – money that would support local communities within a 10km radius of Kype Muir.
Colin added: “One of the biggest concerns people have voiced is about the jobs situation in the area. So, we are working with South Lanarkshire Council to develop a major, targeted employment initiative for the local communities around Kype Muir.
“This is likely to focus on 18-25 year olds, who have been one of the hardest hit groups through the recession and would, subject to us securing the agreement of the local communities over the coming months, involve substantial annual funding for a range of apprenticeships, scholarships and graduate job location initiatives.”
It is estimated that during the 25 year life of the wind farm, £200,000 a year could be contributed from the Kype Muir Wind Farm community fund to the initiative.
Colin added: “This major jobs initiative could help get up to 1000 young people into employment and all of us at Banks Renewables are excited about the possibility of helping families and businesses around Kype Muir not just in the short term, but for many years to come.”
The firm is seeking permission to install 26 turbines on the site, which is in an area identified by the Council as suitable for wind farm development. Each turbine would be up to 132m high.
If approved, the wind farm would generate enough power to meet the annual electricity requirements of 50,000 homes. Annually it would remove around 99,400 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere that would be released producing that energy by non-renewable means.
Power generated by wind farms will help Scotland continue to enjoy the constant, reliable energy supply upon which our lifestyle depends – and have already reduced reliance on fossil fuels imported from unstable overseas markets.
As part of its deeply rooted development with care philosophy, Banks Renewables has already undertaken lengthy consultations with the local communities surrounding the development.
The community fund would be administered through South Lanarkshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund, which would receive £2500 per MW per year, alongside a new local community fund which would be set up by Banks Renewables.
A local community advisory body would also be set up to make recommendations to the Council in respect of applications made to the Renewable Energy Fund and to specifically ensure that this major annual funding gets invested in projects and initiatives that matter to the local people around Kype Muir.
As well as the community fund, Banks Renewables anticipates that construction of the wind farm would result in tenders worth around £17m being put out to the Scottish construction industry, with local businesses encouraged to tender for the work.
Colin added: “We have gone to great lengths over the last two years to work with local people around the design of the Kype Muir scheme.
“We’ve listened to their queries and ideas, while developing a planning application that is both environmentally acceptable for its location and of benefit for all parties involved. We hope to be here for the long term and we’ll keep listening to what local people say.”
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 380 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors. The company’s development with care approach underpins all community consultation and ensures environmental excellence.