Farmers give Birneyknowe wind farm the thumbs up

Left to right: Neil Hamilton, Scotty Bell, Glen Wilson, John Douglas and Miles Crossley are supporting the wind farm project.
Left to right: Neil Hamilton, Scotty Bell, Glen Wilson, John Douglas and Miles Crossley are supporting the wind farm project.
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A group of farmers have backed the Birneyknowe wind farm, saying the project should be embraced by a rural community suffering tough times.

The group who farm land neighbouring the proposed 15 turbine site Birneyknowe, have backed the plans by wind energy firm Banks Renewables, saying it offers a revenue stream that would otherwise have to be found elsewhere through projects such as forestry.

The proposal, which has been submitted to The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit and the Scottish Borders Council, offers a list of benefits to the local economy and the community.

Now, local farmers have publicly back the plans and urged fellow supporters to do the same.

Neil Hamilton, whose family has farmed at Earlside, for 150 years, said: “We are a rural community and farming is extremely important to our economy, but it’s an extremely tough time to be in farming at the moment and we’re all looking at ways to diversify.”

Mr Hamilton’s land would house around half of the site while the other half would be on the farm owned by his brother Michael.

Mr Hamilton added: “This wind farm offers a large financial injection to the community, increased employment and contracts to local business - therefore it shouldn’t be turned down.”

Banks Renewables recently announced plans to improve access to jobs in the Hawick area by providing local people and local firms with a new fund to boost training and workplace learning opportunities.

In addition to the creation of training opportunities, the community fund which could generate up to £300,000-a-year for the local area could also deliver direct funding into community groups.

Mr Hamilton added: “I’ve had a lot of conversations with the guys from Banks and they’ve been extremely thorough and professional.

Other farmers backing the plans include Donald Wilson from Hawthornside, John Douglas who farms at Howahill and Scott Bell.

Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, said: “It’s fantastic to hear this kind of feedback to such prominent people who have lived in the area for so long.

“We’d encourage others who are in favour of our proposals to make their voices heard to the councillors and planning officials who will make the decision on whether the wind farm is given the go-ahead.”