Community backed High Cumnock Wind Farm Appeal Confirmed

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

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BANKS32 (1) (3)Following high levels of community support, Banks Renewables has formally appealed the decision made by East Ayrshire Council to reject plans to build an eight turbine wind farm at High Cumnock.

The appeal has been backed by two community councils from the areas closest to the proposed site, which are keen to see the council decision overturned to allow the vital investment to become a reality.

Citing the strong community backing of its proposals, Banks Renewables is seeking a review of the decision made late in 2014.

If the decision is overturned, the High Cumnock Community Wind Farm, situated on land between Cumnock and New Cumnock, would deliver clean, green energy and an estimated £33 million shot in the arm for the local economy over the 25 year lifetime of the project.

At the time of the refusal, East Ayrshire Council did note that 477 letters of support were received for the application and only eight letters of objection. Those supporting included the two statutory community councils and many local businesses.

Brian Broadley, chairperson of Cronberry Logan & Lugar community council, said: “The communities are highly supportive of this appeal and have urged it forward since the disappointing rejection last year.

“The fact that all the local communities have decided to take up Banks’ offer to sell us a stake in the wind farm speaks for itself. Combined with our Community Revenue Share in the wind farm, we have the chance to make a big difference to our communities. The intention is for the communities to set up a trust, free from control of the local authority, which could then deliver the projects that matter most to the people living in the local area.

“The team from Banks Renewables has listened and acted on our feedback every step of the way and we have been able to build up a great relationship with them. We truly hope that the appeal results in the right decision for the people of East Ayrshire.”

Through its ground breaking Connect2Renewables employability and training initiative, Banks was hoping that High Cumnock Community Wind Farm would help around 100 local people into employment, training or further education, supported by Community Revenue Share funding.

In addition, a pre-planning commitment to local training social enterprise company NCAT, was provided with an opportunity to deliver on-the-job training for 60 young people over the first five years of the wind farm’s operation.

All of these jobs are over and above those employed in constructing, operating and maintaining the wind farm.

The positive impact the project would have on the local economy and local businesses is therefore significant.

Margaret Campbell, chairperson of Netherthird Community Council said: “The decline of the coal and manufacturing industry has had a profound impact on this area and the community is in desperate need of investment on this scale.

“The proposals from Banks Renewables are widely supported and the opportunity of funding truly has the potential to save our community projects.”

Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables said: “We were certainly disappointed by the decision of East Ayrshire Council to refuse the application for High Cumnock Community Wind Farm.

“Almost as soon as the decision was announced we had a number of the project’s supporters urging us to challenge the decision due to the desperate need for the investment this unique project would bring to the area.

“We are happy to now inform these people that Banks Renewables is doing all it can to deliver High Cumnock Community Wind Farm and help Scotland to reach its renewable target for 2020, as wind energy becomes an integral part of the Scottish economy.”

For more information on this important project that would bring precious jobs, investment and renewable energy to East Ayrshire see: http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/high-cumnock/

Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs more than 420 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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