Church parishes, Scout groups and the Girl Guides will be among the community organisations that could benefit from a share of £2m in funds generated by a local wind farm project.
Brothers Andrew and Mark Thompson are planning to build five discreet wind turbines on their family farm at Ponder Gill next to the A66 near Barnard Castle.
Unlike standard wind farm developments, however, the project has been carefully planned as a community benefit scheme to help generate vital funds to support local community groups.
The entire proceeds generated by one of the turbines from the Feed in Tariff will be donated through a community benefit scheme to local organisations including the parishes of Bowes and Boldron.
With additional funds also being donated to youth development groups, including the Scouts and Girl Guides, the Thompson brothers estimate that the wind farm could be worth around £2m to the local community over the next 20 years.
Andrew and Mark inherited the land at Ponder Gill following the death of their father but have both pursued non farming careers.
They decided to investigate the possibility of installing wind turbines whilst still retaining the facility to use it as grazing land for other local farmers.
Andrew said: “We were born and bred in this area and are both passionate about supporting the local community. We appreciate that wind farms can be a contentious issue but we can assure people in the surrounding area that, not only will our turbines be extremely discreet, they will also be playing a hugely significant role in providing funds for the important work of local organisations.”
Under current planning legislation, any party can rent a plot of land that has planning permission on it to install a wind turbine.
Planning permission can only be obtained with the landowners consent, providing it is outside the proximity of neighbouring properties, as is the case at Ponder Gill.
Planning permission can also be obtained within the proximity of a neighbouring property for their own purposes, should the respective neighbour request it from the developer. A decision on the planning application at Ponder Gill is expected in the coming weeks but needs the support of the local residents and members of the Boldron and Bowes parishes.
In the meantime, Andrew and Mark are keen to receive feedback from within the local community about the project. More information is available at www.pondergill.co.uk or please contact Durham County Council planning department if you wish to support the application. For more information please call Eddie Dodd on 07854 529017 or email firstname.lastname@example.org