The extension will be for six turbines, 126.5m to tip height, comparable in scale to the operational turbines to provide one uniform wind farm site. After announcing plans to extend the wind farm in November 2013, Kennedy Renewables held consultations with members of the public and statutory consultees, including public exhibitions in February 2014 as well as Community Liaison Forum meetings. Ahead of these public exhibitions, Kennedy Renewables took the decision to remove a proposed seventh turbine that would have been located closer to the village of Auchtertool. This turbine was removed after a review showing that it appeared isolated compared to the rest of the scheme.
The planning application includes proposals to build an Education and Visitor Centre at Little Raith Wind Farm, which will allow local schools, colleges, universities and community groups to visit and learn more about Fife's first commercial wind farm and how a wind farm operates. This facility will be funded entirely by Kennedy Renewables who will employ a Community Engagement Manager to manage the facility and ensure that all who wish to visit the site can do so free of charge.
The existing wind farm currently pays £49,500 per annum to the Four Winds Development Trust (FWDT) who manage the funds on behalf of the community councils in Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Lumphinnans and Auchtertool. Since the wind farm has been in operation, the FWDT have awarded over £26,000 of grants to local community groups in each of the four communities with beneficiaries including Lochgelly Womens Social Group, Cowdenbeath Community Theatre, Auchtertool Youth Club and Lumphinnans United Football Club. If consented the community benefit fund would be increased by up to approximately a further £96,000 per annum, bringing the project into line with the Scottish Government's aspiration for all renewables projects to pay communities at least £5k per megawatt.
Separate to the community benefit fund, Kennedy Renewables is working closely with Fife College to ensure that the wind farm assists the Fife economy. Kennedy Renewables has provided around £15,000 of funds to the college to set up The Kennedy Renewables Educational Fund. As part of the partnership with the College, 13 students on the Wind Turbine Technician Training Course have been provided with a laptop and industry leading software as well as protective clothing and safety equipment. The students will also benefit from two wind farm site visits, talks from wind farm staff and work placements at the site. With the delivery of a new Education and Visitor Centre on site, Kennedy Renewables wish to expand this partnership with the college and also roll it out to local schools and universities in Fife.
Kennedy Renewables also sponsors the Cowdenbeath F.C. Youth Academy and has provided a complete new set of football strips for four of the Cowdenbeath Academy Teams at under 14, under 15, under 17 and under 19 level, as well as new jackets to the coaching staff. This deal will also be extended to the under 13 team from next season. The deal means that the youth players represent their club with the same kit worn by the first team.
Jonny Kennedy, Managing Director of Kennedy Renewables said:
"We are extremely proud of Little Raith Wind Farm and the warm welcome that we have received in Fife since the wind farm started operating in November 2012. We are committed to Fife and we are glad to see the community benefit fund being used by the local communities that we neighbour to fund initiatives that otherwise would be unsupported.
"We are also extremely pleased to have secured long term partnerships with Fife College and Cowdenbeath FC to assist local students and aspiring young footballers achieve their goals. Our new Education and Visitor Centre will allow us to ensure that as many local groups as possible can access and benefit from our wind farm and, in particular, we would like to encourage local schools to work with us to ensure their students get the best possible opportunities to engage with the renewables industry in their local area.
"We have already invested over £20m in the Fife economy by building Little Raith Wind Farm and our community benefit fund will invest £1.25m in the local communities over the next 25 years. If approved the extension will allow us to further invest in the Fife economy and into our community benefit fund. We are committed to this programme of investment and hope Fife Council look favourably on our proposal." Tom Ewing, the Club Director at Cowdenbeath Football Club, with responsibility for the Youth system, said:
"We as a Community Club believe in investing in young people in the local area and our partnership with Kennedy Renewables has allowed the Club to continue its success in identifying and producing young professional football players.
"Last season, our Academy Graduates played more than 100 first team games in the second tier of Scottish Football, the Scottish Championship. In addition, we have been able to employ six young footballers as Modern Apprentices.
"Cowdenbeath FC is grateful to Kennedy Renewables for their ongoing support of the Cowdenbeath FC youth system which enables the Club to give opportunities to young players from the area to become professional football players."
Deborah Miller, Vice-Principal of Commercial Development at Fife College, commented:
"The partnership with Kennedy Renewables adds real value to Fife College students, supporting them to achieve success on the challenging but rewarding Wind Turbine Technician Training Course.
"In addition to the equipment and other resources funded by Kennedy Renewables, they also provide industry placements for all students on the course to help them to prepare for working in the renewables sector once they are qualified."
More information on the 4 Winds Development Trust can be found here:www.4windstrust.com
Objectives of the Educational and Visitor Centre are:
Provide an observation platform during the wind farm construction phase to allow local residents, schools and interested parties to observe wind turbines being installed.
Provide a drop in centre for local residents to allow them to ask questions and address issues on renewable energy.
Teach local youngsters the importance of renewable energy sources and the effects of CO2 emissions on our environment.
Provide a safe classroom environment for students to carry out projects and experiments relating to renewable energy. These will demonstrate photo-voltaic and wind technology.
Opportunities for school students to meet and interact with college students, engineers and specialists in renewable technology.
Kennedy Renewables sponsored Wind Turbine Technicians will also be able to meet and interact with younger students and hone their communication skills.