Banks Renewables wins battle to build Scotland’s biggest onshore wind turbines


Banks Renewables' project manager Miles Crossley (left) with Hawick residents
Banks Renewables’ project manager Miles Crossley (left) with Hawick residents

A new 15-turbine wind farm near Crawfordjohn in South Lanarkshire, which has the potential to power almost 28,000 homes in the area and generate community benefit funding of £7.2 million over its 25-year lifetime, has been granted planning consent.

The proposed Middle Muir wind farm – which will be developed by Banks Renewables Limited – will have a maximum generating capacity of around 60MW, and between 25 to 50 jobs will be created during the construction and decommissioning of the development.

With a maximum ground-to-wing-tip height of 500 feet, the Middle Muir wind turbines will be more than twice the height of the William Wallace National Monument and will be the tallest onshore turbines built in Scotland.

The original application was for 17 turbines, but Scottish Energy minister Fergus Ewing refused consent for two of the proposed turbines, in order to mitigate landscape and visual impacts.

The project will support and generate habitat improvements to The Red Moss bog near Douglas, which is internationally recognised as one of Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats.

Banks Renewables hopes to ensure 50% of the annual community benefit fund £127,500 is directed through the employment and training initiative in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council. This Fund will last for five years totaling £637,500 this will help create, jobs, apprenticeships, training and grants for local communitities.

Banks Renewables have pledged that a minimum – albeit unspecified – percentage of the total construction cost of Middle Muir Wind Farm will be directed through local companies.

Fergus Ewing commented: “Once it is up and running the wind farm will help reduce carbon emissions from our electricity generation, aiding Scotland’s work to tackle climate change.

“Wind farms like Middle Muir play an important part in helping Scotland reach its target of the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand generated from renewables.

“Recently we heard from the Department of Energy and Climate Change that Scotland’s renewable electricity generation in the first half of 2014 was 30% higher compared to the same period in 2013. This overall increase is primarily due to a 50% increase in hydro generation and a 20% increase in wind output.

“We are already providing over a third of the UK’s renewable electricity generation and helping to keep the lights on across our islands at a time where there is an increasingly tight gap between electricity supply and demand.”

Meanwhile, Banks says local residents in the Borders are backing its plan for another wind turbine parc at Birneyknowe, near Hawick, with more than 100 letters of support received for its proposed 15-turbine site.

Andrew Haddon, a former College Principal from Denholm, (pictured above, with black jersey) said: “There is no silver bullet when it comes to climate change but wind farms will certainly play a crucial role in supporting the government’s ambitions to try and reduce carbon emissions.

“As long as wind farms are sensitively designed, and are located in suitable areas, they can be a valuable asset to local communities.”

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