North Carrick Locals Voice Strong Support for Wind Farm Project

by Heather Peebles

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

 

Banks Renewables

Local people in North Carrick have expressed their overwhelming support for a ground breaking opportunity to develop and part own a new community wind farm.

The first of its kind project, which presents an opportunity for the communities of Maybole, Dunure and Kirkoswald, Maidens and Turnberry to become an active partner in the development of Knoweside Community Wind Farm, was backed by locals at a recent set of public exhibitions.

The three community councils undertook public exhibitions in their respective areas to give residents the chance to find out more about the plans and to find out if they backed a unique partnership proposal.

Over the three days, 108 people turned out to discuss the proposal to enter into a partnership with Banks Renewables and CCE and submit an application to South Ayrshire Council.

If successful the seven turbine community wind farm at Knoweside Hill would directly fund already approved community action plans, thereby helping power the regeneration of North Carrick.

Stuart Telfer, community spokesperson for Kirkoswald, Maidens and Turnberry, said: “The public exhibitions represented a fantastic opportunity for local people to find out more about the proposals for Knoweside Community Wind Farm.

“From the community councils’ perspective it has been refreshing to have been involved in the planning process right from the start. This has given us a chance to have a real say in shaping the plans and ensure that the proposal delivers what our communities want and need.

“In the past big international companies have come steam rolling in, but Banks are a family owned firm who seem to have a genuine desire to listen to the people living closest to the proposed site.

“The public exhibitions we held, with the support of Banks and Cassillis and Culzean Estates, exemplified this, with lots of people praising the quality of information on the project and the partnership proposal.

“The feedback we collected over the course of the three days, along with the direct feedback we’ve been getting from local people ever since we decided to fully investigate the partnership opportunity back in May, should now allow us to make the right decision for the future of North Carrick.”

The proposed Partnership would result in the communities receiving 4% of the wind farm’s revenues, estimated to be around £9.6m over its 25 years life span (or over £380,000 per year). In addition, the communities have the option to purchase an increased stake in the wind farm, which could result in increased revenue to support the exciting community action plans they’ve developed.

Mark Fletcher, chair of Maybole community council, said: “Generally, everyone who turned out to the public exhibitions seemed enthusiastic about the plans.

“It provided the ideal forum for locals to ask us more about the details of the proposals, and as yoBanks Renewablesu would expect, many were highly supportive of how the site promises to provide the communities with long term benefits.

“Of course, as with any project of this scale, there were some questions about the turbines, so it was reassuring to have the experts from Banks Renewables team there to answer any queries on the technical aspects of the development.

“Overall it was great to see so many people involved in the project and I hope the outcome of the exhibitions will mark a bright new future for the area.”

An important part of the community wind farm proposal is the focus on creating new jobs for local people. Approval would lead to a major reinvestment programme by Cassillis and Culzean Estates in a pipeline of local construction projects, with the Estate committed to using locally based contractors to deliver this.

When building and operating the wind farm, Banks Renewables has also committed to maximising the use of local companies and it is already talking to Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce about helping to inform local firms about the opportunity and to encourage them to pre-qualify for future tenders.

Dorothy Ward, community spokesperson for Dunure said: “I would like to praise Banks Renewables for helping us to put together the public exhibitions. They were highly informative and very well presented. Based on the responses we received, it seems that the people of Dunure back the proposals, which in my view represent a huge opportunity for the local community.”

The public exhibitions took place on Monday 29th September at Summer Church Hall in Maidens and Richmond Hall, Kirkoswald and in Kennedy Hall in Dunure on Tuesday 30th September and Carrick Centre in Maybole on Wednesday October 1st.

Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “It was great to see so many local people turn out to the public exhibitions organised by the community councils.

“Having attended three of the events, I was able to see first-hand the enthusiasm shown by the majority of attendees for this unique opportunity. The people I spoke to really seemed to like the idea of being part of a committed partnership that will be able to make a positive difference within their own communities. Something that would not just be about the here and now, but would support the long term future of the area and the people and businesses in it.

“I now look forward to hearing from the community councils and am excited by what the future may hold for us all if they back the partnership.”

Using the feedback from the public exhibitions, as well as direct discussions with individuals, businesses and community groups working in their areas, the three community councils will now make a decision on the partnership proposal. If this is positive, the partnership will be formalised ahead of the submission of a planning application for the community wind farm by North Carrick Renewables Limited.

To register your support for Knoweside Community Wind Farm, and help bring investment and jobs to South Ayrshire, please go to http://www.northcarrickrenewables.co.uk/ now!

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