The operator of an existing East Sutherland windfarm has been granted consent to extend it by 11 much taller turbines than the 35 already on site.
Gordonbush windfarm, located some 12km north west of Brora, came on stream in 2012 with its turbines measuring 110m to blade tip.
In 2017 operators SSE Renwables successfully applied for planning consent for a 15-turbine extension.
Planners were told that 12 of these turbines would have a maximum tip height of 130m, whilst the remaining three turbines would have a maximum tip height of 115m
However the company later asked for this consent to be revised to 11 turbines measuring 149.9m.
Scottish Ministers have now agreed the revision and made public their decision this week.
SSE Renewables welcomed the go-ahead, but say it will now look at investment for the project and whether it is viable to build the turbines “subsidy-free”.
According to the power giant, the move to build fewer but higher turbines reflects the “rapid development of wind turbine technology”.
It claims that the taller, more powerful turbines will maximise the energy generation potential of the site.
Gillian Wilson, SSE Renewables development project manager said: “Onshore wind farms and extensions have an important role to play in meeting Scotland’s net-zero ambitions.
“Therefore we’re delighted to hear the news that Scottish Ministers have granted this extension.
“The 11-turbine extension will complement the existing Gordonbush site, harnessing more of the excellent wind resource and making use of the existing infrastructure constructed for the operational Gordonbush Wind Farm.”
Ms Wilson highlighted the amount of funding the Gordonbush development had poured into the local community.
“We’ve been part of the East Sutherland community for almost a decade now,” she said. “In that time we’ve been very pleased to have been able to help support the local community with £1.4 million of approved community benefit funding to date,
“Thatincludes supporting local employment and apprenticeships.
“We look forward to continuing this work in the community as we develop the extension.”
SSE Renewables is now considering the options for a route to market for the project. That includes the viability of building the project subsidy-free – ahead of taking a final investment decision.
Should the project reach a positive final investment decision, SSE Renewables will engage with the Highlands and Islands Open4Business platform. It will host Meet the Buyer events for the local and Scottish supply chain to maximise the opportunities available for local businesses to work on the extension.
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