Plans for a 12-turbine wind farm in the north Highlands have been welcomed by the local community council, which sees it as a way of funding vital infrastructure projects.
Developer Stratkraft has submitted an application to Highland Council for the proposed Ackron Wind Farm, near Melvich, which will have 492 ft towers and a capacity of up to 49.9MW.
Statkraft says it will generate community benefit funding of about £240,000 a year, equating to more than £7.2 million over the project’s 30 year operating period.
The company initially proposed a 14-turbine scheme in 2019, but removed two wind turbines after feedback from the community and statutory bodies.
It also held a virtual exhibition in October and November to present its final proposals.
Project manager Maya Hernes said: “The project has evolved from the original design. After listening to feedback we now have a scheme which is further inland, away from coastal landscapes and the North Coast 500 route.
“We are grateful for the engagement and interest of the community, it has been incredibly helpful throughout the design process. We would like to thank everyone for their efforts which has really played a part in shaping the final submission.”
Statkraft is a member of Caithness Chamber of Commerce and says it will work with the trade body and other business groups to maximise opportunities for local suppliers.
Concerns have been expressed previously about sites in Caithness and Sutherland being earmarked for a number of wind farms in recent years.
However Melvich Community Council said it backs the Ackron plans. Vice chairman Dave Mowat said a community consultation showed local support for the project outweighed any objections
“The community council’s view is that it’s progress that’s not going to stopped and the financial benefits for the community infrastructure will far outweigh any disadvantages.
“Any objections related to the effect of the wind farm on the tourist industry and the North Coast 500. But our view is that, while we are fully in support of the North Coast 500, it does not put anything into the local economy other than a few individual businesses and doesn’t add anything to the infrastructure in the village. The windfarm will probably be a great benefit to community projects.”
He said there are a number of projects that need to be funded, including repairs to a local bridge and community hall and a children’s play park.
He added: “Statkraft has been excellent at communicating and have taken a lot on board.”
Mr Mowat said there are a number of wind farm projects either built or in development in the area: “I don’t think there are too many. If it got silly and they were everywhere but they are not and they are pretty unobtrusive.”
Caithness Windfarm Information Forum has raised concerns about the number of wind farms already developed and being planned in the north of Scotland.
The group’s Brenda Herrick said the Ackron site would be part of a “ring of steel” affecting the area and would be extremely visual locally.