Planning Go-Ahead for West Midlands? First Wind Turbines

The Government’s planning inspectorate has given the go-ahead for South Staffordshire College’s Rodbaston Campus to host the first wind turbines in the West Midlands.

In a double first, the College will also become the first further education establishment in the country to be powered by a wind energy project of this size.

The pair of 2MW wind turbines, both measuring 126m from base to tip, will be constructed on land at the Rodbaston Campus of South Staffordshire College, by developers Wind Direct and will supply green electricity direct to the College.

Last week the planning inspector gave the green light for the project and concluded that: “The significant contribution to meeting targets for renewable energy generation, and the consequential effect in tackling the challenge of climate change, represents a compelling argument in favour of the proposed wind turbines.”

Frances Karki, Chief Operating Officer of Wind Direct is pleased that this wind power project has come to fruition. She said: “This is a wind power project of firsts. South Staffordshire College will soon be the first educational establishment to be powered on this scale, bringing the first commercial wind power to the West Midlands. The turbines will allow the development of a specialised curriculum at the College aimed at meeting skills and needs within the emerging low carbon industries.”

Chief Executive Principal of South Staffordshire College, Graham Morley said: “This is exciting news for the College and our students. There was an extensive consultation process with a wide range of local stakeholders to assess this project and the turbines will provide hundreds of students each year with the additional knowledge and skills needed to help sustain a low carbon future in the UK. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do; we recently became the only College in England and Wales to have achieved both ISO 14001 and Ecocampus accreditation for our environmental management.

Earlier this year I signed an agreement with a specialist environment services provider which heralded the introduction of a Sustainability and Environmental Management degree course here at South Staffordshire College and just last week our marketing team won the College Marketing Network’s FE Gold award for Sustainability”.

Construction at the Rodbaston Campus is likely to commence in Spring 2011, with a target to have the project energised during Autumn of the same year.

South Staffordshire College opened its doors to students on January 5th 2009, incorporating further and higher education infrastructure in Staffordshire, combining the resources and expertise from sites at Rodbaston, Cannock Chase, Tamworth and Lichfield.

South Staffordshire College provides vocational and academic courses to students from age 14 up to adults and employs around 1300 staff, working with a student body in excess of 20,000.

The college has a mission to create a vibrant educational institution, combining the strengths of the previous colleges, that is better able to respond to the needs of individuals and employees within their communities.

The leadership model is in line with the demands of the new infrastructure and the team is led by Chief Executive Principal Graham Morley.

In a challenging economic environment South Staffordshire College will close the skills gap in the local economy, create strong links to other local education establishments and help provide a well equipped workforce for the mix of job opportunities in South Staffordshire and beyond.