The onshore wind scheme at Limekiln Forest will make “a valid contribution” to the fight against climate change and UK energy security, according to the managing director of one of the renewable energy companies behind the venture.
Esbjörn Wilmar, of Infinergy, said he was delighted that Scottish Government ministers had supported the recommendation from a public local inquiry held last June and had given the go-ahead for the Limekiln extension plan.
The proposal consists of five turbines which will bring an additional 21 MW of installed capacity to the project.
A bid to increase the height of the proposed turbines at the consented Limekiln site, on the edge of Reay, was approved by Highland Council in December. The local authority had originally refused consent for the development in 2019 but that decision was overturned by the Scottish Government.
Members of the north planning applications committee agreed to allow the Limekiln project variation application to move to the final decision-making stage with Scottish ministers, with two of the 21 turbines removed.
As well as the removal of two turbines, the revised scheme involves a revised track design, allowing what the developers say will be improved access to the core path network during the construction works, and an increase in tip heights.
They now await a decision on the Limekiln Section 36C variation application.
If the proposals go ahead there will be a total of 24 turbines, with tip heights of up to 149.9m, across Limekiln and part of Broubster Forest.
Mr Wilmar said: “I am delighted that the Scottish ministers have upheld the decision of the reporters with this decision. This extension allows the increase of renewable energy generated at this site, which, like Limekiln, has a long history of commercial land use.
“In addition, Limekiln extension will make a valid contribution not only to the fight against climate change but, importantly at this time, the energy security of this country as a whole.”
Infinergy and Boralex announced a fifty-fifty joint venture agreement in October 2017 aimed at developing a number of onshore wind projects.
They say construction, commissioning, and site restoration at Limekiln are expected to take around 18 months, “with potential opportunities for local companies and local workforce to be involved”.
The five-turbine scheme, which also incorporates a battery storage array, includes plans for a connecting path to link the Limekiln Forest and Broubster Forest core paths.
Opponents of the Limekiln scheme have said they fear being “encircled by turbines” because of the number of wind energy developments in the area.
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