Plans have been unveiled for a five turbine wind farm at Navidale, north of Helmsdale.
The proposed Navidale Wind Farm would be located on an area of moorland on Creag Thoraraidh.
Green Cat Renewables has submitted a scoping report to Highland Council which starts the process of gauging responses to the initial design from various statutory consultees including Scottish Natural Heritage.
Phil Davidson, who owns Navidale Farm, explained that they were at an early stage in the process, but were keen to hear the views of the community, as well as the various consultees, before taking the project to the next stage.
He said: “Although it is not normally a part of the process for a project of this limited scale, we plan to hold a public exhibition where people can come along and find out more about the project and what opportunities exist for involving the community.”
The proposed development will consist of five wind turbines measuring up to 125m to blade tip.
Mr Davidson moved to the area with his wife Alex, who died recently after a short illness. He said: “Both Alex and I were passionate about renewable energy and we spent three years looking for a potential site.
“The wind speeds here are amongst the highest in Europe so it’s a great place to generate clean, green energy.”
The Davidsons initially bought Navidale with the intention to develop a wildlife park and deer farm, as well as a small wind farm.
Since buying the farm they have undertaken an extensive restoration of the house and also renovated a cottage. As Phil explained: “We have been very lucky to find some fantastic local craftsmen to help us with the work on the house and cottage and it’s made us appreciate how challenging this area can be to find work.”
“Government changes to support for on-shore wind farms make it much more difficult to offer the kind of community financial packages that had become the norm, but we are keen to explore options which would offer significant benefits for the community.”
A number of technical assessments are now being undertaken to assess the suitability of the site for the wind farm. Independent specialists have been commissioned to look at landscape and visual impact, noise and hydrology, as well as cultural heritage and archaeology. They will also investigate the presence on site of any protected species, including birds.
This information will be used in the planning application to Highland Council which the company hope to submit in the autumn.
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