Plans were unveiled this week for a £10 million wind farm in Easter Ross ““ just four years after the community waged a major campaign against a similar proposal.
European wind energy company, Falck Renewables, has submitted a report to Highland Council outlining plans to carry out an environmental impact assessment for a five-turbine, 10 megawatt output, wind farm on top of famous local landmark, Hill of Nigg. A formal planning application will be made later this year and, if it is successfully developed, local people could have the chance to buy shares in the wind farm.
Falck Renewables described the development as a “a community scale wind farm” in its press release.
But Richard Cross, chairman of Nigg Community Council, told whe North Star: “The turbines will be 125 metres high, skylining a hill that’s 200 metres high, so they will be very, very prominent and they will be visible from all the way along the east and the north-east coast.”
In 2003, Shell Wind and Energy Ltd was granted planning consent to erect two 50m high wind masts on Nigg Hill to test wind speed and conditions. The community, which feared the masts would herald the introduction of a full-blown wind farm, had formed NAG (Nigg Awareness Group) to fight any such proposals, but the company did not proceed with its plans.
Mr Cross said: “We rather thought the whole thing had gone away, so this news will do nothing for peace of mind. This proposal is just on the borderline of the original site, in the direction of Shandwick, so all the arguments that pertained to the original proposal will be apply to this one. The community council must be impartial until such time as we have fully assessed the majority view of the community. Having said that, there was a very clear majority view against the previous proposals.”
The site lies to the east of the B9175 near Nigg and Pitcalnie, 4km south west of Balintore.
Fraser McKenzie, project manager with West Coast Energy which is preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment on behalf of Falck Renewables, said: “We believe this is a good location for a wind farm. Most of the area is designated in the Highland Renewable Energy Strategy as suitable for this type of small-scale development. While the windfarm will be visible, we consider that an appropriately scaled development in this location would fit with the landscape character and the elements of large-scale industry already present such as the yard at Nigg or the oil rig platforms in the Cromarty Firth.”
He said one of the features of a Falck wind farm was the level of community involvement that was possible, through ownership schemes such as Energy4All.
Falck Renewables offers local communities the opportunity to buy shares in its local wind farm.
The first wind farm co-operative in Scotland was developed at Falck’s Boyndie wind farm site in Banffshire.
The project would also include a site control building, grid connection compound and access roads.
By Jackie MacKenzie
2 June 2007
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