The GFG Alliance is already investing hundreds of millions of pounds in Scottish industrial development, particularly in the Highlands. It announced its latest plan on Wednesday, focused on a 54 turbine wind farm at Glenshero in the Scottish Highlands that will generate up to 178 MW of clean energy based on an investment plan of up to £170 million. SIMEC says the wind farm will help to generate renewable energy for new industrial developments including an aluminium smelter and an alloy wheels factory in Fort William, as well as steel mills in Lanarkshire. The steel for the turbines could be produced at Liberty’s Dalzell plant in Motherwell and possibly fabricated at a potential new neighbouring wind tower manufacturing facility.
Community and stakeholder involvement will be key to the project, with the next step being a consultation with the local community and a variety of stakeholders. This will culminate in a planning application next year and there will be opportunities for shared-ownership and discounted energy costs for local residents.
GFG is seeking to discuss all of its wider proposals and ideas with a wide range of community groups and local stakeholders in the coming weeks and months, including major enhancement of existing hydro power stations and examination of the scope for further, smaller-scale hydro plants around Lochaber and Kinlockleven. There are also plans for housing upgrades, improvements to farming, fishing and forestry and a new helipad to serve businesses and emergency services.
“Glenshero is a unique project in our portfolio” said Jay Hambro, chief investment officer for the GFG Alliance and chief executive of SIMEC Energy. “It would be built in an environment of zero subsidies, using steel rolled and finished in Scotland and then generate clean energy to support the Scottish metals industry. It is also an exciting opportunity for us to work with the local community and encourage their investment alongside our own. This is truly a win-win project for all parties.”
Duncan Mackison, newly-appointed chief executive of JAHAMA Highland Estates, the GFG division which manages and develops the estate lands, added that GFG wants to use the assets of the estate in the most productive way in order to maximise benefit for the local economy and local residents. The aim is a joined-up plan with the different elements working together with the assets of the estate, in whatever form, being fed into industrial developments to support plans for new sustainable manufacturing.
Following these discussions, GFG hopes to publish a blueprint for a revival of the estate lands and reinvigoration of the whole Highland economy.