Hope Construction Materials is Britain’s leading independent producer of cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates, and operates from 11 locations around the North East, including plants in Bishop Auckland, Durham and Stockton.
Hope has previously worked with regional employer The Banks Group on a major project to relocate the site compound at its Shotton surface mine in Northumberland, which saw Banks Mining award contracts worth almost half a million pounds to over two dozen North East firms.
And it is now hoping to see similar regional business benefits results from the construction of the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would be located to the north of the village of Woodland.
Banks Renewables is looking to invest over £16m in the four-turbine Windy Bank wind farm, and has committed to giving local firms the opportunity to tender for a range of related contracts worth up to £3.5m for different aspects of the project, including construction, security, accommodation and catering, if it gets the go ahead from Durham County Council.
Kris Harrison of Hope Construction Materials says: “While the industries in which we work are finally recovering from the impact of the recession, our County Durham customers tell us that things are still far from easy, and this type of major infrastructure project is just the sort of project that local firms are keen to get involved with.
“Having worked with Banks at their Shotton site and seen the numbers of North East firms that won contracts on that project, we know that their reputation for buying locally wherever possible comes out in practice, which is good for both individual businesses and the wider regional economy.
“We know that there are lots of companies around County Durham, including many in the sectors in which we operate, that would want to stake their claim to contracts relating to the Windy Bank scheme, and we hope they will get the chance to bid for the new revenues it would offer.”
Around 30 jobs would be created during the site preparation and construction phases of the Windy Bank wind farm, with an associated community benefits fund being worth around £70,000 every year, or up to £1.75m over the project’s 25-year lifespan.
Banks has been developing new measures in which this funding could be used to boost local employment opportunities, improve access to apprenticeships and enhance skills training in response to the priorities expressed by local people on how they think it might best be spent.
Instigating work to tackle local domestic fuel poverty and energy efficiency issues has also been noted by people in the area as a further possible area that could be supported by the fund.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “As a County Durham-based business, we are keen to ensure that local suppliers also share in the benefits of the work associated with our projects.
“Benefiting the local economy is a central part of the Windy Bank planning proposal, and we are proud of our track record of delivering local economic, environmental and community benefits across our business developments throughout the county.
“The Windy Bank Wind Farm would provide a substantial boost to the local economy through the wages of both the employees of local businesses in our supply chain, and of our own employees, 135 of whom live in County Durham.
“We’ve already had a lot of interest in this project from a wide variety of local companies in the area, and we very much hope that by granting planning permission, Durham County Council will give them the chance to turn this interest into something more concrete.”
To find out more about the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, and to register support for the scheme, please visit the www.banksgroup.co.uk/windybank webpage.