Published: 10:00, 05 August 2014
The developers behind two contentious wind farm projects in Kent have announced they will source at least 60% of their construction contracts within Kent.
Airvolution Energy have estimated building costs for the projects on Romney Marsh and Sheppey at £3.6m, meaning nearly £2.2m would be injected into the county’s economy over the nine months construction period.
The two four-turbine projects have attracted opposition from wildlife campaigners, who say they are damaging to birdlife at New Rides near Eastchurch and Agney near Old Romney.
Airvolution has held events in Folkestone and Sittingbourne to meet local businesses and add them to their supply register.
Development manager Jeny Rawlings said: “We believe suppliers nearest to our projects deserve to benefit first and foremost, and we plan to source as much as we can from within the local economy.
“Kent has a strong resource of capable contractors. A 60% commitment to Kent is very achievable, and we encourage any companies who think they may be a suitable supplier to contact us.”
Both projects are awaiting planning approval from local councils.
If approved, construction could begin late 2015.
Kent Construction Focus Group chair Ella Brocklebank – who is business development manager of quantity surveyors Woodley Coles – said: “We welcome Airvolution’s commitment to invest in Kent, which also provides exposure to opportunities in the growing renewables industry.
“It is exactly the focus of our group – to ensure increased opportunity for local people on local projects.”
In January, Airvolution submitted an application to build four wind turbines at New Rides Farm, near two operating turbines at Eastchurch. Details at www.newrides-wind.co.uk
An application to install four wind turbines near the existing Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm in Old Romney is with Shepway District Council. Details at www.agney-wind.co.uk
Both proposals include a community benefit fund of at least £1m over the 25-year operating period of the turbines.
The Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said while it supports renewable energy, it has reservations about both wind turbine applications.
Director Dr Hilary Newport said: “We fully accept, and support, the need to increase the production of renewable energy in order to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and help tackle climate change.
“However, recent updates to planning guidance have made it clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities, and that the planning authority must take a balanced view.
“We are clear the Agney proposals are unacceptable, given the cumulative visual impacts of the existing Little Cheyne Court wind farm and the solar farm now constructed at Old Romney.
“We need to safeguard the best and most versatile agricultural land from industrialisation.”
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