Plans to build an onshore wind farm, which developers claim will deliver a “host of benefits” to the local community, in the south of Scotland have been given the green light.
Hamilton-based Banks Renewables’ 22-turbine Lethans Wind Farm east of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire will have an installed capacity of up to 105.6 megawatts.
The Scottish Government approved the proposals after they were revised to maximise the supply of electricity.
The 220m turbines that will be deployed are the tallest to be granted planning permission in Scotland to date.
Banks has worked closely with local renewable energy consultant and service provider Natural Power to draw up the plans – the pair have collaborated previously on a number of other projects.
Lethans is expected to support up to 440 local, unemployed people to get into work or training through a £1.3 million skills fund.
Developers claim the project will deliver £38m in business rates over its lifetime, while a local community body will have the opportunity to purchase a 5% equity stake in the wind farm with 25% community discount.
It’s also thought least £16m will be invested in the area through the use local suppliers and contractors.
Original plans for the development were approved in March 2018, however, an extensive redesign was carried out to maximise efficiency, including reducing the number of turbines from 26 to 22 and changing the layout of the wind farm.
Once built, Lethans will bring Banks operational wind farm portfolio in Scotland to 300MW, including Kype Muir, which became operational last year, and Middle Muir.
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “This has taken many years of hard work, planning and close consultation with the local community and it is a major milestone to see it over the line.
“As well as being a meaningful advance in Scotland’s green energy agenda, approval for Lethans will also deliver real, deep and long-lasting benefits to the local people, the environment and to the economy of East Ayrshire.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the planning processes over recent years, particularly those members of the local community who have fully embraced the process. We’re excited to move this project forward and make the many benefits that it will deliver a reality.”
He added: “Over the 30 years of its lifespan, Lethans will contribute at least £7.1m into a local community benefit fund. It will also contribute another £7.1m to East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund.
“That is money that can be targeted to make a meaningful and positive impact on life in the area, particularly on projects which local people have identified as important to them.”
Emily Galloway, principal project manager at Natural Power, said: “As the renewable energy industry works towards its climate change targets, it is vital that onshore wind farms maximise their efficiency in order to provide low cost, low carbon electricity to energy consumers. Therefore larger, more productive turbines that maximise energy yields must be considered.
“We are really delighted to see another pioneering scheme pushing the boundaries of turbine dimensions – securing the best possible outcome for our client and the wider energy sector.”
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