Wind farm pledges £1.2m

Victoria Allen Energiekontor, Duncan Taylor, Bob Kay chair of BFET, Ian Ireland, BFET secretary.
Victoria Allen Energiekontor, Duncan Taylor, Bob Kay chair of BFET, Ian Ireland, BFET secretary.

The firm behind the proposed Pines Burn wind farm close to Bonchester Bridge has announced funding of £1.2m in support of further education in the Borders.

Leeds-based Energiekontor, currently hoping to put up 12 turbines on the Harwood Estate, has agreed to give more than £50,000 a year to the Borders Further Education Trust, a partner of the Galashiels-based Borders College.

If the wind farm gets the go-ahead, the money would be made available over 25 years.

A decision on whether or not the wind farm will be given planning permission is expected to be made in the autumn.

Duncan Taylor, a project manager at Energiekontor, told the Hawick News: “Energiekontor is delighted to announce that a funding agreement totalling some £1.2m has been agreed with the Borders Further Education Trust.

“The local community has been very clear that investing in young people and further education makes sensible use of the Pines Burn wind farm community benefit fund, and this agreement earmarks one-third of this total fund to be invested in improving access to education.

“Examples include continual minibus replacement and support grants for young apprentices.

“I would like to thank the trust for its efforts over the past 12 months.

“If planning permission is granted this autumn, we will endeavour to bring Pines Burn forward as soon as possible, and this fantastic organisation can begin to put our investment to good use in the community.”

A spokesman for the trust said: “The Borders Further Education Trust is delighted that Energiekontor takes the view that the investment of some of its money should go to supporting further education, within the Borders region.

“It is a very worthwhile contribution to improving facilities and opportunities for young people to gain skills that will enhance their lives and job opportunities.

“This agreement only becomes operative if the company get permission to build the wind farm.”

The plans would see the erection of the some of the biggest turbines in the Borders with seven reaching 158.5 metres in height and five standing at 130 metres.

Hawick Community Council is opposing the wind farm’s proposals, despite councillors being split in their opinions by seven votes to three.