Scottish ministers have finally approved proposals to build a massive windfarm in north Sutherland with the capacity to power more than 35,000 homes.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced yesterday that the government had signed off plans to erect 33 turbines in a forest south of Strathy, near Thurso – nearly five years after they were submitted.
The 2,3467-acre development, which will generate 75.9 megawatts of electricity – enough to power nearly twice the number of homes in Inverness – will creat up to 100 jobs in the area during the construction period.
Longer-term jobs will also be created during the 25-year lifespan of the windfarm.
Construction will start in the next 12 months.
Operator Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has agreed to create a £4.7million fund to pay for so-called community benefit projects as part of planning consent.
The announcement comes a day after it emerged that the world’s biggest offshore windfarm is to be build in the outer Moray Firth.
Uup to 1,400 people could be involved in the construction of more than 200 turbines about 14 miles off the coast of Caithness. The windfarm approved yesterday is one of three planned for Strathy – potentially making it the hub for one of the biggest conglomerations of wind turbines in the UK. The planning application had attracted more than 160 letters of objection.
SSE is seeking approval for a 77-turbines meat nearby Strathy South and developer E.on has submitted plans for an 84MW scheme, involving up to 28 turbines, on ground between the SSE sites.
If all three get the go-ahead, the area would be home to 138 turbines – two fewer than Europe’s biggest onshore windfarm at Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow.
Mr Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn, said: “The Strathy north site is expected to create jobs during construction and will represent a significant boost to the local economy.
“Once it is up and running, the windfarm will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and will produce enough electricity to power more than 35,000 homes.
“In consenting this application, I have put in place a series of conditions to protect the outstanding natural habitats and landscapes and local communities.”
Mr Ewing said the windfarm would help the country reach its target ofmeeting the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020.
SSE director of onshore renewables David Gardner said: “We welcome the decision from Scottish ministers on Strathy North windfarm and all the support we have received from local communities.
“Work to address the conditions associated with the consent will now take place and we are aiming to start construction within the next 12 months.
“During this time, we will be engaging with communities ahead of the construction phase, when we hope to build on the good community relations and exemplary record we have built up during the construction of the Gordonbush windfarm near Brora.”
Strathy and Armadale Community Council chairwoman Janettemackay said: “This is great news for the community aswe believe this project will bring significant benefits to the area.
“There will be job opportunities, including potential for the young people, community-benefit funds and other work that SSE has offered to undertake to help address local road- safety issues.”
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross SNP MSP Rob Gibson said he was pleased the community would benefit from the windfarm.
“In a time when recession is hitting near enough every part of the globe, then the jobs that this development will create and the benefit to the community will provide much-needed sustenance,” he said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding