Wind farm ownership plans backed by community leaders

An East Ayrshire wind farm project has been praised by a prominent local community figure, citing its potential to substantially boost the regional economy.

Lethans Wind Farm, which is being proposed by Hamilton based employer, Banks Renewables, is offering the community the chance to maximise the local benefit from the development with a community share offer, subject to a large discount.

Banks Renewables is offering an equity stake of five per cent to local communities near the wind farm, which would enable a local community body to buy-in to the project prior to construction subject to a generous 25 per cent discount. This would provide the local community an income stream in addition to the substantial community fund.

Lethans Wind Farm, once constructed, would result in an approximate £118 million investment into the Scottish economy; of which £65 million will be invested locally (including business rates).

During the construction period contracts worth in the region of £23 million will be available, with around £15-17 million being awarded to local contractors delivering a variety of services, from aggregate supply to catering facilities.

A community fund – worth around £8 million over the lifetime of the project – will support and be accessed by local community initiatives and clubs, further adding to a potentially transformative impact within an area hit hard by the decline in mining and other industries.

Brian Broadley, Chairman of Cronberry, Logan and Lugar Community Council, said: “The equity sharing scheme is just one of a number of reasons that the community is backing the Lethans Wind Farm and Banks’ work in Ayrshire.

“It is a great opportunity for the community to generate and access funding for a wide range of local needs.  Also, we recognise the importance of creating a sustainable network of renewable energy sources for the country as a whole.”

During an extensive period of consultation prior to planning submission, Banks Renewables received 420 letters of support from the public, with just one letter of objection.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at Banks Renewables, said: “We have developed strong relationships with the very supportive neighbouring communities over the past three years, and we believe that our proposals will directly benefit the local area and deliver a real, lasting, positive impact.

“We hope to see the local community take advantage of this opportunity to take a share in the benefits that would be provided by this excellent project.”

The 74.8MW project will be capable of powering the equivalent of around 44,000 homes and could see locals benefiting financially as well as from the clean energy produced.

The Lethans Wind Farm will also include a £250,000 investment towards improving access to the site with cycling and walking facilities.

The 22-turbine site is situated east of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire – over 2km away from the nearest homes.

Banks Renewables believes its Lethans proposal is particularly strong due the remote nature of the site, the high wind speeds and the sensitive and considered approach taken to site design to ensure that the site’s appearance within the landscape is acceptable.