Local businesses sign up to wind farm opportunities

Fifteen local businesses have registered their interest in a local wind farm project at business lunch on the subject, hosted by the Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce.

Every business leader who attended the lunch has expressed their interest in working on the construction of the Knockendurrick wind farm, east of Gatehouse of Fleet, should the proposals be approved by Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The plans for the seven turbine, 23.8MW wind farm were originally submitted to the council by renewable energy experts Banks Renewables in October 2013.

Gordon Mann, chief executive of Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce, was keen to outline the opportunities available to local firms and says he has been impressed by Banks Renewables enthusiasm to engage with businesses in the local community.

He said: “Is it our responsibility to make sure the developers are awarding as many of the contracts to local firms as possible to keep the local supply chain as healthy as possible.

“Therefore, we were happy to host this lunch to help make Chamber members aware of the potential opportunities available to them.

“There was a great mix in the room as some had experience of working on wind farm projects before while others were investigating it for the first time and it seemed to be very informative and useful for all.”

He added: “As a developer Banks don’t seem to need any encouragement when it comes to engaging with local firms and they have a very refreshing approach that is encouraging.”

With Banks Renewables commitment to using local firms wherever possible as part of the project, it’s estimated that construction work on the site would inject around £5 million into the local economy, while also creating meaningful job opportunities in the area.

Contracts would be required for construction and maintenance, ground works, quarry and building products, plant hire and haulage, waste solutions, fencing, fabrication, accommodation, aggregates, utilities, professional services, hospitality and many more services.

Shelley Bell, Economic Development Officer for Renewables and Construction at Dumfries and Galloway Council, spoke at the lunch offering support to the businesses to ensure they can bid for the work if the project gains approval.
She said: “The lunch was a fantastic opportunity for businesses to chat to Banks Renewables about their work directly, but in a casual environment.
“Those who attended appeared to take on what Banks were saying and got the information they were looking for.”

The lunch, held at the Murray Arms Hotel was attended by a number of Banks Renewables staff including the companies procurement manager as well their construction director.

Robert Burton of Plansafe Solutions Ltd in Dumfries was interested to hear about the various opportunities to work on the project and is hoping the Banks Renewables plans gain approval.

He said: “We’re interested in working with Banks on the examination and testing of pressure and lifting equipment within the turbines, so it was great to get a chance to meet them and hear more about their plans.

“They seem a very straight forward company and the lunch was very informative. They certainly seem to want to use local contractors and the local economy can benefit in other ways so we registered our interest in hearing more should their plans gain approval.”

On top of the business opportunities, Banks Renewables Community Partnership approach would also see local people share 3% of the site’s gross revenue, which could be worth upward of £2.975 million over the 25 years of the development.

That money would be directed into projects identified and backed by local people, including job and training creation schemes. Banks Renewables is in discussions with Dumfries & Galloway Council and with local colleges and businesses to agree how best to deliver a targeted employment and training initiative.

Elsewhere the local community’s share of wind farm revenues could also be invested into providing vital community infrastructure, delivery of major environmental projects and direct funding into community groups.

The Hamilton based company recently announced that, if approved, the Knockendurrick site could be connected to the national grid by 2016.

Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, who also attended the lunch said: “It’s exciting to know that if it is approved, Knockendurrick could be live within two years and delivering real benefits to the local community.

“We are grateful for the feedback and support we have had from local people and businesses, who acknowledge the many, long-term benefits it will bring to the area at a time when public sector cuts are biting deep.

“We hope all of those who support the wind farm proposals will express that support to their local councillors to help them make the best decision for the area.”

Full details about the Knockendurrick Wind Farm can be found at the dedicated website, http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/knockendurrick/.

Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs more than 420 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.

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