A SCOTTISH community could soon benefit from a multimillion-pound fund that will help thousands of families to save millions on their energy bills by improving the thermal efficiency of their home and replacing fossil fuelled heating systems.
The ambitious plan from Banks Renewables would see its proposed 38-turbine Bodinglee Wind Farm and battery storage development, near Douglas in South Lanarkshire, drive a community fund of over £50 million over its 40-year lifespan.
A large portion of that money would be ring-fenced for the creation of a community-owned organisation, Clydesdale Community Energy Transition Company (CCETco) that would exist to help people living locally to benefit from a range of energy efficiency improvements, from insulation to air source heat pump upgrades to solar panels.
Banks commissioned a study by independent consultants Natural Power that has shown that funding these money saving measures could result in between £2-4.4 million in annual savings on energy bills for 6,500 households locally, all of which are in an area identified as being especially exposed to rising energy costs and home to a higher-than-average proportion of older, inefficient properties.
Addressing this issue has been highlighted as the biggest priority for local communities as a result of several community consultation events that took place last year as the family firm developed its proposals for Bodinglee Wind Farm.
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables is determined that the proposed community benefits will have a deep and meaningful impact on those living close to the proposed ultra-efficient wind farm.
He said: “The overwhelming feedback that we received at our consultation events was that households want help to lower their energy bills, especially if they are hosting a nationally significant green energy development.
“We have now developed a proposal whereby the Bodinglee project will enable a community-led organisation that will be able to improve the energy efficiency of homes and community buildings in the area helping thousands of people living nearby to save money on their energy bills.
“There is still a lot to discuss and determine and we want communities to be informed of the project and to attend one of these events to help us finalise our proposals by sharing their views on the issues important to them.
“As well as being the first of its type in the county, this innovative community package is a milestone for Scotland and could act as an important blueprint for wind farms around the country.”
In addition to the creation CCETco, Banks Renewables has offered to gift a 1% stake in the wind farm to the community – and a further 9% will be available to purchase at market rate if desired, bringing significant further funding into the community above the £53m figure.
If approved, Banks’ 38-turbine Bodinglee Wind Farm – which will lie south-east of Douglas in South Lanarkshire – will be among the most powerful and most efficient onshore wind farms in the UK and would provide more than 200,000 households with green electricity annually and could remove the equivalent of 71,000 petrol cars from the road.
The Bodinglee consultation events will be taking place across the month, between 2-7pm:
· 21 February – Coalburn Miners Welfare
· 22 February – St Brides Centre, Douglas
· 23 February – Rigside Village Hall
· 27 February – Carmichael Village Hall
· 28 February – Roberton Village Hall
Banks Renewables will also debut cutting-edge modelling technology at the events which will allow local people to input their post code and see a 3D model of how the proposed wind farm will look from specific angles and directions to help them visualise the site.
Robin added: “This project could bring transformative environmental, social and economic benefits to South Lanarkshire and further afield. The community benefit fund proposal will tackle climate change and energy poverty at its root cause for the long term, with the wind farm itself helping the country do the same.
“We’re now hoping to delve deeper into those discussions with the local community at our next consultation events, which will play a massive role in shaping our final planning submission for Bodinglee Wind Farm.”
If granted planning permission, Bodinglee Wind Farm will save 118,000 tonnes of CO2 every year and create around 780 full time equivalent job years regionally across the area in its lifetime.
For those who can’t attend the in-person Bodinglee Wind Farm consultations from 21 February onwards, opinions can be shared online at banksgroup.co.uk/bodinglee, via email at email@example.com or via phone on 0191 38 6100.
For more information on Bodinglee Wind Farm, visit https://www.banksgroup.co.uk/bodinglee
For more information on Banks Renewables, visit https://www.banksgroup.co.uk/renewables/