Windfarm developer plants lasting legacy

Published: 14 Jun 2012 09:300 comments

A RENEWABLES developer hopes to implement a forestry regeneration project in the Borders to the sum of £60,000.

Banks Renewables director Phil Dyke.

A RENEWABLES developer hopes to implement a forestry regeneration project in the Borders to the sum of £60,000.

Hamilton-based Banks Renewables has been working with Melrose based Tweed Forum a charity which protects and enhances the natural, built and cultural heritage of the River Tweed and its tributaries.

As part of this, the wind farm developer has proposed it will fund the planting of six hectares of woodland over and above the already proposed planting to offset any potential tree felling that may occur as a result of the proposed Quixwood Wind Farm.

Under its development with care approach Banks Renewables hope to work with the Tweed Forum to identify areas which are in need of regeneration, ensuring the impact of its activities are responsibly managed, by protecting and developing the local environments surrounding the wind farm site.

Director of the Tweed Forum, Luke Comins said: "The Tweed Forum has a track record of working with the Council and wind farm developers in bringing about habitat improvements.

"We were asked by the Scottish Borders Council to work with landowners and farmers to facilitate suitable habitat enhancements in the vicinity of the wind farm, after they successfully negotiated a number of habitat offset payments with developers as part of the planning process.

"Our aim is to achieve multiple benefits wherever possible. We have worked on wetland and planting creation to benefit biodiversity as well as trying to improve fishery, natural flood management, carbon sequestration and improved water quality but to name a few

"The Tweed Forum has discussed the possibility of facilitating similar work in the Eye catchment should the development be approved."

Banks Renewables has recently submitted a planning application to the Scottish Borders Council for a 14 turbine wind farm to be installed at Quixwood Farm.

As part of the plan, a total up to 16 hectares of commercial woodland will need to be felled due to wind shear constraints and in order to ensure that the impact of this activity is minimised, the developer has carefully designed an environmental management plan to encourage future wildlife habitats in the area.

Rather than simply replace the felled area with commercial forestry the plan created by Banks Renewables and in line with the ethos of the Scottish Borders Woodland Strategy, goes above and beyond the minimum re-plantation requirement and will focus on developing a positive and lasting legacy on the local environment.

Not only will they work with the Tweed Forum as part of this, Banks Renewables will also implement a reforestation plan on the site of the felling, which will include the planting of broad leaf native trees, heath land and acid grass- which will help encourage a flourishing new wildlife habitat and biodiversity on the Quixwood site.

Phil Dyke, director at Banks Renewables said: "Our development with care policy is fundamental to everything we do.

"The ultimate aim of renewable energy is to care for and protect our environment, so it is crucial that when planning wind power sites, we not only ensure that we do not cause adverse affect to the local ecosystem, but make a positive contribution to the area that can be enjoyed for years to come.

"It is really important to us that we develop a positive long term relationship with local communities and work in partnership with organisations such as the Tweed Forum to ensure that people see real, long lasting benefits from their local wind farm and can continue to enjoy their local environment."

The Quixwood site would generate up to 32.3MW of energy, enough to meet the annual energy needs of 19,400 homes and would remove 54,200 tonnes of CO2 annually from the atmosphere that would be released if the electricity was generated by non-renewable means.

Banks Renewables is committed to maintaining the positive community relationships that it has developed over the last year in the run up to the submission of the planning application and welcomes all feedback in respect of the application, as the proposal goes through the planning process.

Power generated by wind farms will help Scotland continue to enjoy the constant, reliable energy supply modern life demands - and such wind farms have already reduced the nation's reliance on fossil fuels imported from unstable overseas markets.

As well as supporting the Scottish Government's drive towards producing all of the energy consumed in the country through renewable means, the Quixwood project will bring with it a range of other economic and community benefits on top of the community support package.

Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (www.banksgroup.co.uk), a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 380 people in the renewable energy, property and mining sectors.

The company's development with care approach underpins all its work, driving community consultation and environmental excellence. Community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of a Banks development can apply to the Banks Community Fund for funding by contacting Dawn Huntrod on 0191 378 6342.

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