A windfarm company said yesterday that it was offering a Caithness community an “industry-leading” benefit package of up to £360,000 a year.
Infinergy said the £9million community benefit fund associated with its Limekiln proposal could help villagers at Reay safeguard their community’s future with a range of innovative projects designed to boost economic growth and tourism potential.
Green energy firm Infinergy is offering the community surrounding its 24-turbine Limekiln windfarm proposal a package worth £5,000 per MW) – a total of up to £360,000 a year or £9million over the 25-year lifetime of the project, based on a total installed capacity of up to 72MW.
Since launching the proposal earlier this year, Infinergy has set up a community liaison forum bringing together representatives of Caithness West Community Council, Melvich Community Council, Reay Primary School, Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Thurso College to discuss how the fund could operate and the priorities it could support.
A spokeswoman said membership of the liaison forum does not imply support for the proposal and members are free to take whatever stance they wish on the eventual planning application. The group has discussed a range of ideas which could be implemented if the project gets the go-ahead, including a community enterprise cafe or shop with attached accommodation for visiting groups such as students, improved facilities for surfers and others using the beach and a community bus to supplement the poor public transport provision serving Reay.
Other ideas include support for small businesses, including funding for apprenticeships and grants to help start-up and smaller firms get off the ground, and improvements at the Limekiln site to allow it to be used for mountain biking and integration with long-distance footpath networks
Infinergy’s Inverness-based project manager Fiona Milligan said: “The forum has produced some great ideas about how the community benefit could be used to create a lasting legacy by supporting economic development.
“Reay and surrounding areas face issues with depopulation which are compounded by poor public transport links and a lack of employment opportunities, encouraging young people to head elsewhere for work. These problems may be made more acute when decommissioning at Dounreay eventually finishes.”
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