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South Lanarkshire Leads The Way On Scotland’s Renewable Energy Agenda
Politicians from all parties have applauded the efforts of South Lanarkshire Council and wind energy firm, Banks Renewables, to promote the local and global benefits of renewable energy and called for the rest of Scotland to follow their example.
In the same week that it was announced that renewable energy has now overtaken nuclear as Scotland’s top power source, the local authority hosted a charter signing, committing an estimated £69million worth of revenues to local communities in the region.
Hosted by BBC Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson, a panel including Cllr Chris Thompson, Patrick Harvie MSP, Tom Greatrex MP and Christina McKelvie MSP, delivered speeches detailing the benefits to the local economy of two wind farm projects in South Lanarkshire, which have been approved by the Scottish Government in the last year
Middle Muir Wind Farm, north of Crawfordjohn, and Kype Muir Wind Farm, 5km south of Strathaven will produce enough green electricity to power almost 102,000 homes. A £500,000 per megawatt commitment to the local communities closest to the wind farms will also generate roughly £70million to be invested over the course of the 25 year project life-cycle.
The agreeing politicians were joined by Cllr Chris Thompson – chair of Enterprise Services Committee & Councillor for Kilbride Central North and Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, who said the ‘Connect 2 Renewables’ charter was also a commitment to using local businesses to develop and run the project where ever possible.
Tom Greatrex MP, Shadow Minister for Energy & Climate Change and Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, said: “The work South Lanarkshire Council and Banks Renewables have done to get to this position should be applauded and the authority’s forward thinking approach needs to be adopted wider in Scotland.
“South Lanarkshire has a proud tradition of industry and manufacturing. Renewable energy projects are not about replacing this, it’s about innovating and finding beneficial ways to carry on that tradition.
“These renewable energy projects will deliver tangible local benefits by way of contracts for local businesses and job opportunities and I hope where South Lanarkshire leads others will follow.
He added: “Previously, larger energy firms used their own supply chains, but with smaller companies such as Banks, this makes it very different as they want to offer the contracts to local suppliers. It’s a model that will probably be copied by Banks competitors, but I hope they allow that to happen so that other regions can benefit in the same way.”
Connect 2 Renewables raises the bar in respect of its commitment to local delivery. It aims to ensure the benefits of wind farm projects are maximised and will help to reignite the local economy, as well as delivering a host of improvements and opportunities for local residents.
Along with creating new employment, training and education opportunities for local people, Banks Renewables is committed to giving opportunities for local contractors to get involved in the construction of its wind farms – a commitment that has been supported and welcomed by the Council.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said: “Scotland is making rapid progress on its commitment to renewable energy, which is a central part to the global solution.
“There is far less animosity in Scotland towards renewable energy than in England and we should be proud of that, but projects such as those Banks are leading in South Lanarkshire deliver more than this.
“They are not about replacing a multi-national energy company, with a new multi-national. This is a blend of private and public sector working together to deliver a blend of benefits to the local community.”
This week it was reported that renewable energy in Scotland from wind farms, hydro power plants and other clean technologies provided the single largest source of electricity to the country for the first time, in the first half of 2014.
Christina McKelvie – SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse, said: “This week renewable energy overtook nuclear as Scotland’s top power source, but the benefits go beyond generating energy.
“Projects like these will directly benefit young people in the community for years to come and will help reduce unemployment in the area and I would personally like to thank Banks Renewables as their community engagement has been second to none.”
Cllr Chris Thompson, Chair of Enterprise Services Committee & Councillor for Kilbride Central North, said: “The Connect 2 Renewables charter takes effective use of community benefits to all new levels.
“The commitment by Banks Renewables to local firms and local people will enrich lives within the community and I believe it will open up real opportunities for local businesses.
“This partnership demonstrates the power of the public and private sector working together. I believe it’s vital that the public sector leads the way to ensure it supports businesses, allowing them to grow and therefore boosting the local and national economy.”
Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables said: “The Connect 2 Renewables charter will break new ground as it takes a comprehensive list of local benefits to new levels.
“It’s fantastic to hear the politicians of all colours agreeing on the importance of these projects, not just locally but on a national level.”
Banks Renewables recently submitted a planning application for an 18 turbine extension to Kype Muir Wind Farm, with high levels of support from the surrounding communities.
If approved, this would increase the total estimated local investment from the combined 44 turbine Kype Muir project to £139 million over the 25 year life cycle of the wind farm.
The event to launch the Connect 2 Renewables charter took place on November 28th at The Banqueting Hall in Almada Street, Hamilton.