Local businesses have praised an innovative wind energy business for its plans to direct a significant share of the estimated £152 million build cost of two proposed wind farms in East Ayrshire to local companies.
Hamilton-based Banks Renewables is awaiting a decision on its planning application for a new 27MW Wind Farm at High Cumnock, to the east of Cumnock and expects to submit another planning application later this year for its 90MW Lethans Wind Farm.
The company has pledged to agree a guaranteed level of direct investment through local firms during the construction of the wind farms, should they get the go ahead.
In addition the firm is also working with East Ayrshire Council to develop a locally targeted employment and training initiative, to be funded by its wind farms, with the specific objective of increasing job opportunities for people in the Cumnock and Doon Valley.
It is expected that around £30 million of direct contracts will be available to local firms during the construction of the High Cumnock and Lethans Wind Farms, should they be approved, including construction and maintenance, groundworks, quarry and building products, plant hire, waste solutions, fabrication, aggregates, hospitality, utilities and professional services.
Pipeline Drillers who specialise in cable installations with involvements in all aspects of civil utilities including gas, electricity, water and sewage, is just one of many local companies who could see extra work come their way.
Peter Taylor, director of Pipeline Drillers, said: “As a local business we really appreciate the opportunity to be involved with the development.
“I think it’s a great chance for all local firms to secure much needed contracts, but also to be part of delivering a project that is giving so much to the wider community through the partnership that Banks has offered.
“Pipeline Drillers specialise in directional drilling, so if there are any rivers, streams, roads or railways that need to be crossed, we can drill below these features meaning minimal impact on the environment. Not having to dig through roads and railways also means far less inconvenience for motorists and pedestrians during the construction process.
“Hopefully the plans do get the go-ahead as it will help support many local businesses like ours, which in the current climate will be a welcome boost.”
Supporting local economy
It is expected there will also be significant indirect benefits for the local economy during wind farm construction, with local shops, pubs, hotels, hauliers, delivery companies and caravan providers all set to benefit.
It is however the commitment to utilising local labour and creating new local employment that has the potential to create the most positive impact and create greater wealth and prosperity in the area over the long term, which with the slow decline of the mining industry is hugely needed.
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, as well as our wider commitment to supporting local communities, that Banks Renewables has decided to make a very clear commitment to using local contractors and businesses and agreeing a guaranteed level of direct economic investment into the area when we build our wind farms.
“We are actively encouraging as many local businesses as possible to contact us and see how they can get involved in our developments in East Ayrshire and we are sure this will lead to the maximum possible use of local companies in the construction of our High Cumnock and Lethans projects, should they be approved.”
As part of its commitment to local companies, Banks Renewables is intending to hold a “Connect to Renewables” event later in the year, with the objectives of supporting local companies through its procurement processes; providing information on training, apprenticeships and other employment initiatives to be supported by the wind farms; and giving information on Banks’ development pipeline and construction programme.
Banks Renewables has extensive experience of working in partnership with local communities across Scotland and the United Kingdom to deliver a range of local economic, social and environmental benefits, tailored to each individual communities needs.
It also successfully designs and develops new energy schemes while working closely with communities in partnership.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group, a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs over 400 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.