The manager of a 5,000-acre Perthshire estate has revealed how a proposed wind farm on its land would result in major long-term investment back into the estate, creating jobs and increased sustainability and biodiversity.
Brian Kaye runs the family-owned Bandirran Estate and says its partnership with Banks Renewables to develop the Bandirran ‘Community Partnership’ Wind Farm could safeguard the long-term future of the Estate.
He says financial security provided by revenues from the six turbines proposed on the Estate south-east of Balbeggie would allow for major reinvestment, in turn helping bring prosperity to the surrounding communities.
Banks Renewables submitted a planning application for the Bandirran project in January after consulting extensively with local people, the Estate and a wide range of local organisations and businesses. The proposal includes a unique Community Partnership approach which would see the community collect 2.5% of wind farm revenues and give them the added option to purchase up to a five per cent stake in the operating wind farm company.
Focussing on the direct benefits the wind farm would bring to the Estate and the local area, Mr Kaye said: “The development of a wind farm at Bandirran is vital to the Estate’s long term sustainability. In fact, it would put us in a completely different economic position.
“We’d be able to embark on significant and long-term investment on the Estate itself, including buildings, landscape and environmental improvement and business initiatives. These local projects and initiatives will in turn support local families by using local companies, employing local labour and bringing money into the local economy.
“At the same time they will enhance the environment in which we sit and help to increase access to this marvellous countryside for the people that live here.”
The Estate has already identified a programme of work should the wind farm get the go ahead and this includes upgrading roads and refurbishing a number of Estate properties to make them more environmentally sustainable, thereby reducing fuel bills for tenants and reducing the Estate’s carbon footprint further.
“These projects require a significant capital investment and therefore can only happen in the foreseeable future if Bandirran Wind Farm becomes a reality. Without the wind farm it will be extremely challenging to fund these exciting projects.
“If however it does go ahead the pipeline of Estate work would provide a huge opportunity for local trades and other businesses, which in turn would support jobs in the local and regional economy.”
The Estate, already a significant local employer, is also looking to create a game keeping apprenticeship in association with Elmwood College should the wind farm be approved, to support the various rural projects its plans to roll out.
The estate manager said: “The apprentice would learn the traditional skills required for sustainable land management helping to ensure the continued stewardship of the land into the future, as well as further connecting the Estate to the surrounding communities.”
Bandirran Estate has been a trailblazer for sustainable land management and all of its farms are long-term members of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming). It has also led the way on improving biodiversity through providing hedgerows, wild bird cover, ponds and wetland habitats under two separate Scottish Government Rural Development contracts.
Fragility in the farming sector required the Estate to look for new ways to diversify its income and after lengthy consideration, including identifying a suitable development partner, decided a wind farm was the most sustainable option. Banks Renewables was appointed largely as a result of its philosophy of development with care, with the Hamilton-based company being known for its innovative community focussed approach to development as well as its environmental track record while delivering major projects across the UK over more than 35 years.
Colin Anderson, development director at Banks Renewables, said:
“We are absolutely committed to working with the Estate and local people to create a wind farm that makes the widest positive contribution in terms of the community, environment and local economy.
“There is no doubt that the Bandirran Estate shares these values and ambitions, which is just one of the many reasons we believe this is a compelling opportunity. By making Bandirran Wind Farm a Banks Renewables Community Partnership Project we will ensure people who live and work in the area benefit directly from it.
“It also provides a fantastic opportunity for the communities to secure shared ownership of a commercial wind farm through our five per cent Equity Purchase Option.
“We’ve appreciated the willingness of many local people to get involved in helping shape the project. Now the challenge is for the communities to come together to make the most of this unique opportunity.
“We look forward to them starting to create their own plans for the future and to start effecting real, positive long term change in their villages and towns.”