Revenue from one of 23 turbines in a controversial windfarm proposed for land owned by Harrods boss, Mohamed al Fayed, in Sutherland will go to train local people.
It would mean up to £5m over 25 years to help Highlanders learn the technology of green energy.
The initiative comes from the developer Airtricity. Last Friday, it received approval from Highland Council’s Planning Committee for its 46MW windfarm at Beinn Rosail in Strath Oykel near Invercassley, against the advice of planning officials. It is opposed by all six Sutherland councillors, three of whom were eligible to vote.
Yesterday Alison Magee, the convener of Highland Council and the member for central Sutherland, lodged notice of amendment so that the planning permission will be challenged at the full council meeting on October 26.
Airtricity is working with Inverness College, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Renewable Energy Group on the training initiative and a final deal is expected this month.
Alan Baker, chief executive of Airtricity Scotland, said: “Up to £200,000 a year for 25 years could be guaranteed for training people living in the Highlands for the opportunities in the new renewable industries.”
The windfarm’s output would be enough for almost 28,000 homes, and would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 113,000 tonnes a year. If approved, construction work would start next year and it should be operational by 2008.
It is opposed by Creich, Ardgay, and Lairg community councils. Francis Keith, councillor for north-west Sutherland, said yesterday: “The development would be two parallel lines of turbines very close to Rosehall village. Our officials and Scottish Natural Heritage were against it.”
Airtricity supplies renewable electricity to over 45,000 commercial customers in Ireland. It is developing windfarms in the British Isles and the US.
By David Ross, Highland Correspondent
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