SCHOOL children from across Scotland would enjoy hands-on lessons about rural life and renewable energy, if a classroom on the site of a wind farm is approved.
Wind energy specialists, Banks Renewables, hope to promote teaching among the turbines at its proposed Bandirran Wind Farm, near Balbeggie in Perthshire.
As part of its plans for a six turbine wind farm on the 5,000-acre Bandirran Estate, the Hamilton-based firm wants to create the learning centre in a steading building on the site.
The idea has been welcomed by experts with the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), a charity which aims to get children aged three to 18 in to the countryside to learn about rural life, including farming, food production, forestry and estate management.
Anna Dickinson is the project co-ordinator in Perth and Kinross with RHET and says a dedicated classroom on the site would be a fantastic resource to be used by visiting school parties.
Anna, who is also a secondary teacher, said: “I already know the site really well because the estate is one of our supporting farm hosts.
“Our aim is to get children and young people out of schools and into the countryside to explore what is on their doorstep and find out more about rural life. Increasingly, renewable energy is part of that.
“Being able to get up close to a wind farm would be a good opportunity, particularly since the Curriculum for Excellence is all about giving pupils the facts and information they need to make their own, informed decisions.
“An onsite classroom would be an ideal muster point for school groups and a base for visiting neighbouring farms, forestry and estate land. It may also be used to provide visit linked activities, especially if the weather was unfavourable.
“That is what would make this such a valuable resource – it could be used in so many different ways and provide many opportunities for local schools.”
Banks Renewables submitted a planning application for the Bandirran project to Perth and Kinross Council in January after consulting extensively with local people, the Estate and a wide range of local organisations and businesses.
The proposal includes a unique Community Partnership approach which would see the community collect 2.5 per cent of wind farm revenues and give them the added option to purchase up to a five per cent share in the operating wind farm.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said: “Wherever we have sites we want to make sure that we provide tangible and long-term benefits to the surrounding communities.
”The beauty of the classroom on the Bandirran site is that its benefits would extend far beyond the local area and it could become a valuable resource for schoolchildren and their teachers from all over Scotland.”
The communities’ share of the wind farm revenue would be a minimum of £102,000 a year, equating to more than £2.5 million over the life of the wind farm. With this potentially being higher depending on how much the wind blows and on future energy prices!
Local people would agree their priorities for where that money should be invested to benefit community groups, local projects, and worthy causes. Elsewhere, such funding has funded workplace training and job creation schemes, apprenticeships and local community infrastructure projects.
The owners of Bandirran Estate have revealed how revenues from the wind farm would help secure the future of the estate, with money being reinvested to create jobs and increase sustainability.
Independent ecology experts have also highlighted a series of environmental benefits which would be delivered as part of the scheme, including planting of native woodland and hedgerows to boost biodiversity and creation of a dedicated area for protected curlew.
Local businesses have also supported Banks Renewables for its commitment to ensure that a significant amount of all construction-related contracts are awarded to local firms, delivering an estimated £4 million shot in the arm to the local economy.
Full and detailed information on the Bandirran Wind Farm proposal can be found at http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/bandirran/.
Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), 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.
Issued on behalf of Banks Renewables by www.holyroodpr.co.uk. Further information on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 561 2244.
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Contact: Linsay Robertson