The planning application went into planning this week and is understood to be the first wind farm in Caithness to include Thurso Community Council area as a direct beneficiary of its community benefit package.
If consented, Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm would be capable of generating enough clean, low-cost electricity to meet the annual demand of around 24,000 homes. It will also provide a tailored package of benefits aligned with community priorities to help deliver local projects that will secure long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.
“There has been a lot of interest at our public exhibitions in the community benefit, including positive feedback about the Thurso area being included as a beneficiary” said Euan Hogg, Development Project Manager at RES. “If the project goes ahead we hope to work with both Caithness West and Thurso Community Councils, as well as Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Thurso Community Development Trust, to ensure that the community benefit package supports local needs and priorities which strengthen the local area.”
In addition, Cairnmore Hill would deliver around £1.4 million of inward investment in the form of jobs, employment, and the use of local services as well as around £8.75 million in business rates to The Highland Council over the wind farm’s operational lifetime.
“One of our roles as a chamber is to help developers understand our local supply chain capabilities and ensure that benefits are maximised locally for both business and community if projects proceed” added Trudy Morris, CEO of Caithness Chamber of Commerce. “We welcome the willingness of RES to work with us to gain a better appreciation of what is available in our region.”
Alan Gow, owner of Gow Groundworks in Halkirk, said that his company has worked on a number of wind farms across Caithness and have seen how projects like Cairnmore Hill can strengthen the supply chain.
“In addition to injecting much needed investment into the county, they play an important part in upskilling the young workforce, so we hope that Cairnmore Hill is successful in planning this time around” Mr Gow added.
Onshore wind, together with large scale solar, is the cheapest form of electricity generation. It also increases energy security by reducing reliance on imports and isn’t subject to sudden price fluctuations or the uncertainty of global markets. With the current cost of living crisis and climate change emergency, projects like Cairnmore Hill are crucial to help support the transition to a zero-carbon future.
In Scotland, RES has developed and/or constructed 21 wind farms with a total generation capacity of 597MW. The Scottish Government has set a legally binding target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045 and onshore wind projects like Cairnmore Hill will play an important role in helping to achieve these targets.
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