A wind farm development and regeneration of a rural Moray community can go hand-in- hand, developers behind the proposal have claimed.
Infinergy have lodged an 1,800-page application with the Scottish Government to build a 59-turbine wind farm at Dorenell Farm on the Glenfiddich Estate.
The revised proposal has been trimmed from an original 71 turbines following extensive public consultation.
The company claims a good level of support for the scheme, although there has been some strong opposition to the plan, and insist it will benefit the area in a number of ways.
Moray Council will be a statutory consultee on the plan and an objection from the local authority will trigger a public inquiry.
A recent report on regeneration of the surrounding Cabrach community highlighted the wind farm development as an opportunity.
And Infinergy this week welcomed that report and said the wind farm is set to pump £9 million into the community over its 25-year lifespan.
That will come in the form of an annual £354,000 community fund to be administered by an independent charitable trust comprising community figures.
Gillian Gordon, a member of Cabrach Community Association, admitted the community fund would be a great boost for the area.
“Anything that would bring investment and possible employment into the area has to be welcomed,” she said.
“Not everybody is in favour of it (wind farm) but the majority are in support. I think folk recognise renewable energy is the way forward.”
Infinergy insist the wind farm will have many more benefits other than just the community fund, including the creation of at least six local jobs through the operation of the wind farm, Infinergy’s decision to base a Scottish office at the Cabrach and the possible employment of wardens to manage the development of a footpath network and improved access arrangements to the Glenfiddich Estate.
Infinergy claims the creation of that number of jobs is significant in an area with a population of just over 60 people.
“Throughout the consultation process, local residents and stakeholders have said they would like to see the area regenerated, with the key being the development and promotion of a comprehensive paths network to encourage tourism,” said a spokesman.
Infinergy believe the wind farm development could lead to a number of empty properties on the Glenfiddich Estate, owned by London financier Christopher Moran, being refurbished and reoccupied.
The Cabrach report produced for enterprise company Highlands and Islands Entprise highlighted the high number of derelict and empty properties on the estate.
Infinergy said most people attending a series of public exhibitions expressed support for renewable energy, including wind power.
“Generally, visitors were open-minded about the project, seeking information and happy to discuss the Dorenell Wind Farm in a positive frame of mind,” added the spokesman.
“Very few expressed implacable hostility, though there were concerns about visual impact and potential effects on tourism.”
There has been some strong opposition to the development locally and Dufftown-based group, Save Our Scenic (SOS) Moray, held an information day in the town square last weekend when 80 people signed objection letters against the Dorenell development.
Local councillor Fiona Murdoch has also come out strongly against the development, claiming it will destroy an unspoilt area of Moray and impact on local tourism.
By Chris Saunderson
20 June 2008
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