Proposals for a new windfarm that could power up to 40,000 homes have been unveiled for a site in West Lothian.
The plans, for a £100 million, 30 turbine windfarm and forest development at Fauch Hill, 8km south-west of West Calder, were last night presented to the local community at a meeting at the Dalmahoy Hotel, near Edinburgh Airport.
The development is one of three planned for Scotland over the next five years by European Forest Resources, owned by French energy conglomerate the Louis Dreyfus Group.
Another substantial project, near Inverness, is due to be submitted for planning in the first quarter of next year, while the firm is now considering sites for the third windfarm.
The West Lothian development, which will have a capacity of about 90MW and is located on the edge of the Pentlands Regional Park, will have to be considered by Scottish Ministers under rules governing planning applications for large windfarms that will generate more than 50MW of power.
Turbines on the site are to be about 125 metres high, with a capacity of about 3MW. The project will also include about 238 hectares of forest area, which the developers say will screen the turbines from nearby homes and will include paths for cycling and horseriding.
“This is a fairly substantial investment into Scottish renewables and forestry,” said Debbie Chawner, a director of Fauch Hill Sustainable Energy – the subsidiary of European Forest Resources set up to run the West Lothian project.
“We really want to make this a ‘best in class’ project and the plans are not firm yet. We will consult with the local community over their ideas.”
In addition to existing woodland, the developers – who will also manage the windfarm once it is up and running – plan to create a large section of new forest following a plan to be developed in conjunction with the Forestry Commission Scotland.
The project will also provide funding of more than £300,000 a year – £4,000 per megawatt generated by the windfarm every year – for community projects.
Co-director Laurence Caperton said the company was committed to using as many Scottish consultants and manufacturers as possible.
“There are currently no turbine manufacturers in Scotland, but if one sets up a manufacturing base by the time we come to build Fauch Hill, we will definitely take them into serious consideration,” he said.
“When we go to tender for the turbines, we will ask companies to show us their Scottish credentials, in terms of if they would outsource the manufacturing of the turbine towers to Scottish companies.”
Initial plans for a 43-turbine development at the site were revised following initial consultation with the Scottish Government earlier this year.
The developer bought up the site, a farm that had lain empty for six years, about 18 months ago. Representatives met met enterprise minister Jim Mather last summer to outline their plans for Scotland.
A spokesman for West Lothian Council said: “The council is aware of proposals for a large-scale wind farm in the Pentland Hills. No application has been lodged at this time.
“The council has requested that the applicant meets its planners to introduce the scheme, as is the usual practice.”
A full planning application for the development will be submitted to Scottish ministers within the next 12 months, following consultation with the local community.
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