Local Businesses Back Wind Farm Investment

by Heather Peebles

Friday, July 25th, 2014

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Development director of Banks RenewablesBosses of some of East Ayrshire’s best-known businesses have thrown their support behind a wind farm project, insisting it will create jobs, deliver significant community benefit and an economic boost for the area.

Colin Morrow, Director of Barr Quarries is among the business leaders who say the High Cumnock Wind Farm should be approved by East Ayrshire Council, because of the investment it will bring to the area.

Barr Quarries, a specialist building contractor and materials supplier based in Ochiltree, currently employs 60 staff.

Mr Morrow believes investment from the wind energy specialists would not only help secure his company’s staffing levels, but also help them grow.

He said: “Banks commitment to local businesses is fantastic and brings some much needed investment to the area after the closure of the opencast coal sites.

“We’re hoping to launch an apprenticeship scheme and we’ll be looking for people in East Ayrshire. Investment from companies like Banks Renewables is key to this kind of growth.

“We’re hoping to partner with them for the on-site construction work, but we’re just one example of the investment this could bring to local businesses.”

Local Support

Barr Quarries is among businesses which have praised wind energy specialist Banks Renewables for its plans to commit a significant share of wind farm contracts to local companies in East Ayrshire.

The Hamilton-based firm plans to direct around £7million of the estimated £36million construction cost of the High Cumnock wind farm to local companies – including construction and maintenance, ground works, quarry and building products, plant hire, waste solutions, fabrication, aggregates, hospitality, utilities and professional services.

Iain Watt, owner of Iain Watt Haulage and Campbell Duncan, owner of Duncan Plant Hire, based in New Cumnock, run businesses which between them currently employ 50 staff.

Both companies operate throughout Ayrshire, South West and Central Scotland and Mr Watt and Mr Duncan are both supportive of Banks Renewables’ local investment.

Mr Watt said: “The commitment offered by Banks Renewables is great news for the local area as it offers opportunities for contractual work. More importantly it allows us to plan for the future, protecting the jobs of local people and opening up further employment opportunities.

“Economic development of this nature is extremely important for local business and from our past experiences we understand the value it can bring, so if Banks proposal is accepted we would encourage as many businesses as possible to come forward, work with the developer and take advantage of the contracts available.”

Mr Duncan added: “Many businesses have faced uncertain and difficult times during what has been a particularly long recession.

“If a company like Banks is committed to making sure contracts, potentially worth millions of pounds, are awarded to local companies that can only be good news.

“Those kind of contracts can help companies like ours enjoy a period of stability and offer job security, which in turn lets us be a lot more confident about winning and securing further business. All of which is good for local employment and the local economy.”

Benefits For All

The Hamilton based company is awaiting a decision on its planning application to construct a 27MW Wind Farm at High Cumnock.

As well as ensuring contracts go to local firms, Banks Renewables is also working with East Ayrshire Council to develop a locally targeted employment and training initiative, to be partly funded by wind farm revenues, with the specific objective of increasing job opportunities for people in the Cumnock and Doon Valley.

This would need to be done in partnership with East Ayrshire Council, local businesses, community groups and training providers and all parties seem committed to the same very clear objective.

Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “The feedback we’ve had from local businesses so far has been fantastic and we appreciate more than ever the need to support local businesses during the current economic challenges.

“It’s for these reasons we have decided to make such a clear commitment to using local contractors and businesses which is why we are targeting a high level of direct local investment.

“Of course we are delighted these businesses are adding their voices to the increasing public support for the project and we’d urge others to make their support known, to help ensure the project is given the go-ahead.”

As well as its measures to boost local businesses, Banks Renewables has also won widespread local support with its proposals for an innovative community partnership yielding 2.5% of the wind farm revenues for the local area – up to £5.8million over the 25 year lifetime of the project.

The community would also be offered the chance to purchase an equity share option up to 5%, with the revenues generated being directed into worthwhile local projects, including job creation and training schemes, apprenticeships and business start up grants.

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

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Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood Partnership. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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