The Hamilton-based wind energy expert has already consulted extensively with the council, residents and businesses to develop an innovative Community Partnership proposal.
This ensures that if Bandirran Wind Farm is given the go-ahead, locals will see a host of long-term benefits; including a direct boost to local firms through Banks’ commitment to use local companies, and a share of the project’s annual revenues which they can invest in the local priorities they see fit such as jobs and skills initiatives and improving local facilities or delivering community based environmental projects.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “We have listened to extensive feedback and used that to shape our plans, so believe we have come up with the best possible proposal for this area.
“By taking a community partnership approach we’ll ensure that if the wind farm is approved, it will have a hugely positive impact on communities surrounding the site for a generation.”
The formal application is for six turbines on the Bandirran Estate, each up to 132m high. The site could generate up to 20.4MW of clean, green energy.
As part of the extensive relationship-building with the local community, Banks Renewables held a series of public exhibitions to explain its proposals and to hear feedback. It also held a “Meet the Buyer” event for Perthshire businesses to learn about the opportunities the project could yield for them.
Among the local businesses which attended – and registered its interest in tendering for contracts as part of the project – was Stanley-based plant hire firm, Chic Kippen & Son.
Owner, Chic Kippen, said: “We have been impressed by the manner in which Banks Renewables has approached the planning of the Bandirran Wind Farm.
“I believe the wind farm will greatly benefit the local community and we are hoping to benefit from Banks Renewables’ commitment to using local firms by tendering for contracts with them.”
In late 2013, Banks Renewables delayed its planning submission after local people requested further technical information. It arranged a series of additional community panel sessions, facilitated by Nicholas Morris of the independent group, Voluntary Action Perthshire.
Each of those three panel sessions was attended by independent experts to provide in-depth technical advice. They included an engineer, a landscape architect, an archaeologist and an ecologist.
If Perth & Kinross Council approves the application, the proposed Community Partnership would result in the communities receiving 2.5 per cent of the gross annual revenue from the wind farm. This share is underwritten with a guaranteed minimum community payment of £5,000 per megawatt per annum equating to guaranteed community funding of £2.5 million over the 25-year operating period.
Revenue generated from the wind farm will be ring-fenced for local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations, with the proposal being to set up a Bandirran community Partnership that will consider applications and make decisions on funding. The fund would be used to target local issues that are identified by local people.
Similar projects delivered by Banks have resulted in job creation initiatives, provision of community infrastructure, delivery of major environmental projects and direct funding into community groups
In addition, the community would have the opportunity to purchase up to a five per cent stake in the operating wind farm; which together with the Communities’ revenue share, would provide a meaningful step on the road to delivering one of the key Scottish Government renewable energy targets, that of increasing community ownership in renewable energy projects.
The additional revenue from this direct investment could help deliver many more exciting local projects and further support the surrounding communities. Full details of the Bandirran proposals can be viewed at www.banksgroup.co.uk/bandirran.
Colin Anderson added: “We have made a deliberate effort over the last year or so to involve local people extensively in the development process and have greatly appreciated the willingness of many local people to participate.
“Working closely with local people has given us an understanding of the issues they are concerned about, which includes the lack of job opportunities, access to apprenticeships and training for the unemployed. These are therefore things that we are sure would be prioritised and addressed directly through the Bandirran Wind Farm Partnership.”
Colin added, “We hope however to take this further by working directly with local businesses and organisations to drive the economic benefits of the project right down to grass roots level.”
During the construction of the wind farm, contracts will be required for a variety of jobs including construction and maintenance, ground works, quarry and building products, plant hire and haulage, waste solutions, fabrication, aggregates, utilities, professional services and hospitality.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group, a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 420 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors. The company’s development with care approach underpins all its work, driving community consultation and environmental excellence.
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Contact: Scott Douglas