People in Upper Nithsdale and neighbouring parts of East Ayrshire who attended recent public exhibitions on renewable firm Burcote Wind’s Sandy Knowe wind farm proposal have given the scheme a big thumbs-up.
A resounding 83% of attendees (15 out of 18) at the events last week in Kelloholm, New Cumnock and Sanquhar said they were either ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of the proposal.
This backs up earlier feedback from events in March this year, when 70% of respondents (28 out of 40) said they were in favour. The average saying they supported the Sandy Knowe proposal across the two sets of events was 74%.
In addition, the vast majority of attendees backed the main areas suggested for support from the £450,000-per-year (£11.25million over the 25-year project lifetime) community benefit fund associated with the project. These include measures to stimulate economic growth such as apprenticeships, small business grants and an outreach centre to allow youngsters to study college courses locally.
The 30-turbine Sandy Knowe proposal would have an installed capacity of 90 megawatts (MW), enough to power 50,000 homes – the equivalent of 73% of all homes in Dumfries and Galloway. It would also offset 102,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, reducing Dumfries and Galloway’s carbon footprint.
Burcote has been consulting with the community for more than a year on its plans and has set up a community liaison group of local representative organisations including Community Councils to discuss ideas and address concerns.
The firm expects to submit a planning application for the Sandy Knowe proposal in November this year.
Burcote operations director Fraser Campbell said:
“We’ve been delighted by the level of positivity shown towards the Sandy Knowe project by local people.
“We’ve tried hard to work constructively with local people throughout the consultation process to address areas of concern and engage meaningfully with local organisations. We think that hard work is reflected in the level of support shown for Sandy Knowe.
“The community liaison group has been an invaluable forum for exchanging information between ourselves and the community and brainstorming ideas for how the £450,000-per-year community benefit fund can help bring about lasting economic regeneration.
“It’s clear that a fund of this size could help kickstart real economic growth locally, through things like apprenticeships, grants for small businesses and improved access to skills training using modern online study methods to overcome rural isolation.
“The area has been hit hard by the loss of traditional industries, so this is a way of creating the right environment for young people to get on and entrepreneurship to flourish.”
A community website – www.sandyknowewindfarm.com – has been set up to keep local people informed with maps, photomontages, progress on technical studies and dates of meetings or public exhibitions.
Notes to Editors
1. The recent public exhibitions in Kelloholm, New Cumnock and Sanquhar on September 26th-28thwere attended by 43 people. Of these, 21 left written feedback via a questionnaire. Of those who answered a question asking how supportive they were of the scheme (18 people), 83% (15 people) said they were either ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’. At earlier events at the same locations in March 2012, attended by around 60 local people, 70% of those who gave feedback (28 out of 40) said they were either ‘supportive’ or ‘very supportive’ of the scheme – against just 10% who said they were opposed and the rest undecided.
2. These results support findings from an independent postal survey, commissioned by Burcote Wind, and returned by 136 local residents. Of those who responded, 64% thought that Sandy Knowe was a good site for a wind farm and only 19% didn’t.
3. The 30x 3 megawatt (MW) turbines proposed for the Sandy Knowe site would have a combined installed capacity of 90MW, capable of producing 237,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually. This is enough to:
- Power 50,000 homes per year – 73% of all the homes in Dumfries and Galloway or 93% of East Ayrshire homes
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions by 102,000 tonnes
- Help Scotland reach its target to produce 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
4. The proposed community benefit fund is equivalent to an annual payment of £5,000 per Megawatt (MW) of installed generating capacity. This would produce an annual ‘royalty’ to the community of £450,000 (based on the output of 30 turbines of 90MW), or £11.25million over the 25 year lifespan of the development. The payment would be fixed and would not fluctuate with production, to guarantee stable funding. The exact vehicle for delivering this resource to local community projects will be determined in close consultation with community representatives.
5. As part of the future planning application, Burcote Wind will need to compile a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to identify the potential impact of building the wind farm on the local environment, ecology and plant and animal life. The EIA must demonstrate that the benefits of developing the site clearly outweigh any potentially negative impacts. In addition, Burcote Wind will have to demonstrate how the site can be physically and ecologically restored following the 25 year lifespan of the wind farm.
6. Burcote Wind is an independent renewable energy company based in Dunfermline, Scotland, but active throughout the UK. The company specialises in onshore wind energy projects from the identification and design stage right through to construction and operation.
7. For more information, please contact Orbit Communications on 0131 603 8996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.