The company behind plans for a new multi-million pound wind farm in West Lothian have revealed new details about the scheme.
Last week, renewable energy company Fauch Hill Sustainable Energy Ltd (FHSE) held a series of public consultation events on their proposal for a Section 36 wind farm sited south-east of Camilty plantation near West Calder.
The original proposal was for the installation of 33 turbines but it has been reduced to 23 in order to comply with local radar issues and reduce visibility from the Pentland Hills regional park.
The turbines could produce up to 69MW, providing enough energy for around 42,000 homes – about the number of households in Livingston.
The proposal, which is near to the A70, will be constructed in conjunction with the creation of new forest area and will include improved access to the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
And this week FHSE signed an agreement with Oatridge College to carry out a study on the recreational potential for the land in which the wind farm will be situated.
Over the next few months, land management experts from the college will examine the site and put together a recommendation to FHSE on how best the site can be maximised for public and community use.
Examples of community use could include a visitor centre, walking paths, cycle tracks or horse riding trails.
The study will also review how access to the Pentland Hills can be improved for West Lothian users.
Debbie Chawner, director of FHSE, said: “We want to look at how best we can use the land for recreation.
“We see the Pentland Hills as a key part of our bid and there is an opportunity to improve access and create a southern entrance to the park.”
In addition the energy company says it wants to use part of the Fauch Hill Community Benefit Package to fund skills training opportunities for people at West Lothian College to allow students with an interest in renewable energy gain the opportunity to develop their skills and experience for a career in the engineering industry.
This will be delivered through FHSE’s community benefit fund, confirmed as £4000 per installed MW, which will come to almost £7m over the 25 year lifetime of the project.
The fund will also help support local communities and the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
Adrian Kitchen, director of business and curriculum development at Oatridge College said: “The Pentland Hills are an important place for many people and community groups, including our own students.
“Working with FHSE, we are keen to ensure that the land is respected and well managed whilst public access to the Pentland Hills area is potentially improved.
“Oatridge College is well placed to take forward this work given our track record in land based studies and we would hope that it will open doors for further work with the renewable energy industry for the college in future.”
FHSE’s Debbie Chawner added: “We look forward to receiving Oatridge’s thoughts on how the site can be optimised for outdoor use by the public.
“This is an important renewable energy scheme of strategic significance for West Lothian and the surrounding area.
“We are actively engaging with a number of local stakeholders as part of the process of finalising our planning application for Fauch Hill Wind Farm.”
In addition to the community benefit package, FHSE says it plans to set up a share scheme that will allow nearby residents and organisations to invest in the wind farm.
An application could be submitted to the Scottish Government by early next year.