Borders Residents hear of benefits from proposed wind farm

by Laura Berry

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Birneyknowe smallBorderers have expressed interest in finding out more about job creation schemes, start up grants and other local benefits which could be delivered through community partnership in a proposed wind farm.

More than 100 people turned up to find out more about plans for the Banks Renewables Birneyknowe Wind Farm at a series of public exhibitions held in June.

Now the feedback from attendees has revealed a significant number would support plans to invest in jobs and training initiatives in the area, as part of a community partnership – while an influential business leader praised Banks Renewables  for its approach.

The exhibitions underlined the Company’s commitment to provide new apprenticeships, training opportunities and jobs for the local area, supported by a total community fund of £250,000 in annual revenue for the community.

Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “Working with local families and businesses is at the heart of every development we are involved in, so that we can ensure the people living and working nearby see real benefits for their communities.

“Our proposals for Birneyknowe are at a very early stage, so it is welcome that more than 100 people took the opportunity to find out what could be involved and we hope many more will get involved in the coming months.

 “We would like to continue active community participation in the project’s development, as our experience has shown this results in better outcomes for everyone.

“Hopefully through this process of meetings, we have reaffirmed to residents, businesses and community groups that the development will take into account their opinions and reviews, with the ultimate aim of creating a development which is as acceptable to as many people as possible.”

Banks Renewables is renowned for its community partnership approach to its wind farms, where a share of revenues is invested into local projects and initiatives, as prioritised by local people

This recent stage of exhibitions highlighted community benefits such as apprenticeship opportunities for young people, energy saving measures for the elderly, and grants for local start-up businesses.

Banks Renewables has also held talks with Business Gateway, which offers assistance and guidance to people starting up or growing their businesses in the Scottish Borders, to discuss opportunities for skills and training.

Chris Trotman, Business Adviser at Business Gateway in Selkirk, said: “This project could offer opportunities for the local business community through skills and training development.

“I am encouraged by the fact that Banks is  keen to explore opportunities and possibilities for local businesses and individuals.

“This could include upskilling people and improving their qualifications, with a particular interest to assist with businesses that involve young people, disabled or new start potential businesses, though no business sector is ruled out.

“There is a willingness from Banks Renewables to explore opportunities and it is encouraging to know they are open to ideas.”

The exhibitions were held on Tuesday June 18 at Bonchester Bridge, Wednesday 19 June at Denholm Village Hall and Thursday 20 June at Tower Mill, Hawick.

The Birneyknowe Wind Farm project could comprise up to 15 turbines of a maximum 132m each, generating up to 51MW of energy.  A 60m test mast was recently erected at the site to measure wind speeds. Data gathered over the next three years will help inform the suitability and design of a wind farm in the area.

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