Co-operative banking on getting a fair wind

Neil Brown, group commercial director of the Banks Group, which is developing wind farms in South Yorkshire.
Neil Brown, group commercial director of the Banks Group, which is developing wind farms in South Yorkshire.
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Work is poised to start on a wind farm at Ulley, in Rotherham, after Durham-based Banks Renewables clinched a £21.9 million funding agreement with the Co-operative Bank.

Around 30 jobs will be created during construction of the six turbines on the Penny Hill site, west of the junction of the M1 and M18 to the south east of Rotherham.

Banks says a significant number of orders for materials and sub-contract works will be awarded to local firms.

The turbines, which are being supplied by leading manufacturer REpower, are due to be delivered to the site early in 2013 and will generate up to 20.4MW of electricity when they begin producing power later that year.

According to Banks, that will be enough to meet the annual electricity consumption of around 10,000 homes – or ten per cent of all the homes in the Rotherham area.

Neil Brown, group commercial director of the Banks Group, said: “Utilising onshore wind farms like Penny Hill to update the UK’s power infrastructure today is already helping to address the energy challenges that we know the 21st century will bring, and we’re very pleased that The Co-operative Bank is continuing to support our investment in state-of-the-art renewables technology.”

Penny Hill is the fourth Banks wind farm to be backed by the Co-operative Bank. Others include the Marr and Hazlehead wind farms, also in South Yorkshire, and the Armistead scheme in Cumbria, where construction began last month.

James Sutcliffe, senior manager in the bank’s renewable energy team, said: “We believe medium scale renewables projects such as these can make a significant contribution to the country’s future energy mix and help with the required transition to a low carbon economy.”

Rotherham residents will reap a number of benefits from the Penny Hill Wind Farm scheme.

A fund worth a total of £500,000 during the wind farm’s 25 year life will be used by Banks to undertake a number of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people.

The company is also providing £50,000 to establish a Warm Zone scheme in Rotherham, which will be used to fund energy saving measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation for local homes, helping to alleviate fuel poverty and improving domestic energy efficiency.

The Warm Zone scheme will create further local jobs and could attract total benefits worth £3 million in the shape of grants for energy efficiency improvements.