Cutting Edge Community-Led Initiative
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Local community leaders from across North Carrick are looking at ambitious plans to set up a community wind farm which could help fund important projects across North Carrick in South Ayrshire. All three community councils covering Maybole, Kirkoswald, Maidens, Turnberry and Dunure have agreed to lead a major exercise to consult local people on the proposals.

The three groups will outline how plans for the eight-turbine Knoweside Community Wind Farm could see the local community collect up to £9.5million over 25 years to be invested in local groups, projects and job-creation initiatives, with the option to increase that amount if they take up an option to buy equity in the wind farm company.

As well as helping to fund the local action plans drawn up by each of the community councils, 20% of the revenues would be set aside to benefit the wider area. Part of that income could also be ring-fenced to provide long-term financial support for local people seeking new opportunities, which could include a targeted employment and training initiative. Proposals to form a partnership between the community councils, the Cassillis and Culzean Estates and wind energy specialists Banks Renewables were discussed in detail at Maybole Town Hall on April 28.

That resulted in the community councils agreeing they would like to take forward the proposals by sharing the information as widely as possible with local people and asking for detailed feedback. Peter Mason, Chairman of Carrick Community Councils’ Forum and also the Association of South Ayrshire Community Councils, and a resident in Maybole, said: “What is most important about this is that it is a community-led initiative. We will now ask our communities if they want to join this proposed partnership. “This is really cutting edge. This kind of proposal has not been done before in Scotland in terms of the financial value or the degree of community involvement being considered. “We have a duty to make sure that as many people as possible across our communities get the chance to hear what these plans would involve and how the local area could benefit, so that they can make the most informed decision on whether to go ahead.”

If the community councils’ consultation finds widespread public support for the scheme, the partnership group would then take on responsibility for jointly submitting the planning application to South Ayrshire Council. The initial proposal would see the community receive a 4% share of the site’s gross revenues yielding up to £9.5m over its 25 years life span. However, the community would also have a chance to purchase a further 5% stake in the proposed wind farm once operational. The community councils have also requested that locally based companies are given the opportunity to tender for as much of the construction work as possible, which could see contracts worth millions of pounds awarded to firms based in Carrick and wider South Ayrshire

Since the proposed turbines would be sited on land belonging to the Cassillis and Culzean Estates they would also enjoy an additional new source of revenue. The Estates has committed to using this to fund a major reinvestment programme across the Estates providing long-term sustainability, as well as employment for local people and a major boost the local economy.

Peter Mason added: “Both the Estates and Banks Renewables deserve credit for the way they have approached this from a community perspective. “It is almost a decade since this plan was first mooted and we now have an opportunity for the community to be an active partner in the development, construction and operation of a community wind farm. “It is absolutely right that we spell out very clearly the potential benefits for the communities we represent, while listening very carefully to any objections or worries that local people may have.”

Each community has been working on drawing up its own action plans to address important local issues, from providing villages with public toilets, to refurbishing important landmarks or providing more activities for young people. Colin Anderson, director of Banks Renewables, said: “When we first talked about creating a wind farm here in 2006 we won the support of local people with our community focused approach, but had to shelf the scheme because of technical hurdles. “We’ve used the intervening years to make major changes to the proposed site, reducing the number of turbines from 15 to just eight and relocating them.

“We’ve also taken the opportunity to fine tune the community partnership approach, so the positive response is gratifying. What we have now is a proposal that is good for the environment, shaped to be as sympathetic as possible to the setting and structured to bring real, tangible and long-term benefits to the local area. “We are now very much looking forward to working with the Estates and the local communities to steer this innovative Community Wind Farm proposal through the proper local planning process and hope it will be given the go-ahead after full and proper consideration.

“Banks Renewables is part of the Banks Group (, a family firm founded in 1976, which now employs 420 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.”