Burcote Wind’s consented Sandy Knowe Wind Farm in Upper Nithsdale, has been shortlisted for the Best Community Engagement Award at the Scottish Renewables Green Energy Awards 2016.
The Best Community Engagement Award is a new addition to the awards ceremony this year and recognises ‘outstanding engagement with a community by a commercial developer, which enhanced the participation of the community in the project and/or shared the benefits of the project with the community.’ The awards ceremony will be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Thursday 1 December 2016.
Burcote submitted a new application to Dumfries and Galloway Council in July last year for Sandy Knowe Wind Farm. This followed the refusal of an original Section 36 application by the Scottish Government in February 2015, which prompted a petition with over 1,000 signatures from the local communities to overturn the decision. The new application for 24 turbines, and a total installed capacity of up to 48MW, was consented by the Council in March this year.
The Company announced last year that they will be working in partnership with ERG, a major Italian renewable investor, with over 1GW of wind energy under its control. This partnership has enabled the developer to fully implement its community engagement strategy, agreeing both a significant community benefit fund and an innovative community shared ownership model. This model will see the local Community Councils of Kirkconnel & Kelloholm and the Royal Burgh of Sanquhar owning up to the equivalent of one turbine and sharing in the revenues (4.17%) of Sandy Knowe Wind Farm.
In line with Scottish Government guidelines, Burcote has also set up the Sandy Knowe Community Benefit Fund that will make a contribution to the surrounding communities of up to approximately £6 million over the 25 year lifespan of the wind farm. In addition, the developer has also proposed a preferential procurement policy for local contractors, providing a 5% price advantage for local firms on contracts relating to the development.
Sandy Knowe Wind Farm has received significant support from the local communities, with both the host and neighbouring Community Councils supporting the development. In total, the application received 118 letters of support, and only one letter of objection.
Fraser Campbell, Operations Director at Burcote Wind said:
“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Best Community Engagement Award at this years Green Energy Awards. The communities of Upper Nithsdale have been consistently supportive of the Sandy Knowe project and this was a major factor in our decision to submit a smaller application to Dumfries and Galloway Council and also directly contributed to the decision by the Planning Committee to consent the project. This was a victory for the community, as much as for us. Being shortlisted as finalists for this award is recognition and appreciation of how we have involved the local communities over the last five years in every step of the evolution of this project.
“Burcote Wind and our partners ERG, place communities and community engagement at the heart of our approach to renewable development and will continue to do so with not only Sandy Knowe, but each of our other projects throughout the UK. As a company we are committed to ensuring that each of our developments make a significant contribution to both the local communities and economy. With the help of local communities in Upper Nithsdale we have developed an inclusive approach to community engagement that we are rightly proud of. The output from this engagement is the formulation of a Community Development Plan to focus the community on using funds to promote social cohesion and economic growth; the introduction of our Community Shared Ownership policy, which goes beyond simple Community Benefits to offer them a stake in the future performance of the wind farm; and, a commitment to local companies through our Regional Procurement Policy that they can also benefit from the construction and operation of our projects. We believe that this will allow the local communities to fully embrace the opportunities that Sandy Knowe can provide.”
“I would like to congratulate the other shortlisted developers and we are now looking forward to what is sure to be a hugely enjoyable evening.”
A joint comment from Royal Burgh of Sanquhar Community Council and Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Community Council stated:
“We would like to congratulate Burcote Wind and ERG for being shortlisted for this award – it is truly deserved. We fully support Sandy Knowe Wind Farm and have worked closely with Burcote Wind over the last few years. Both our communities have been incredibly impressed by their commitment to work with us to maximise the benefits that Sandy Knowe can create locally. Sandy Knowe will provide us with a great opportunity to significantly improve local services, provide work related training and will help breathe new life into our communities, creating a positive legacy for future generations, which otherwise would not be possible.”