14 January 2013
HIGHLANDS BENEFIT FROM COMMUNITY AGREEMENT DEAL
A new wind farm proposed for Sallachy Estate near Lairg in the Highlands will boost the Scottish economy by over £130 million pounds, will create more than 70 new jobs and provide £8.5 million in community benefits to the surrounding area.
Those are the key findings in a comprehensive set of documents submitted to Highland Council and the Scottish government by WKN AG the company behind the wind farm application.
The German firm is one of Europe’s leading and most experienced renewable energy developers with over 90 successful wind farm projects in Europe and the United States. The Sallachy Wind Farm is their first in the UK.
A planning application for the scheme was lodged in December of 2011 and since that time the firm has engaged in a detailed and widespread consultation programme to identify concerns about their scheme, provide solutions to those and identify the benefits to be gained from the project both nationally and more importantly locally.
WKN commissioned an independent socio economic impact assessment report by leading economic consultancy firm BiGGAR Economics to update the original planning application. This report assesses the economic impact that the proposed wind farm could have in the local area around Sallachy, in the Highlands and in Scotland.
It concludes that during the construction phase of the wind farm there will be £49 million of investment to the Scottish economy, £20m of which will feed directly into the Highland economy creating up to 42 full time jobs.
During the 25 year lifespan of the wind farm, the report forecasts the economic impact will be £84million to Scotland including £51 million in the Highlands and £19m in the local area supporting a total of 30 jobs nationwide.
The proposed wind farm is situated on the Sallachy and Duchally Estates and could produce enough energy to power 34,000 homes, the equivalent of 34% of all the homes in the Highlands. The addendum is the final submission WKN will make before the Highland Council’s North Area Committee meet to discuss the proposals later this year, after which the decision will be passed to Scottish Ministers.
WKN signed two ground breaking partnership agreements during 2012, one to confirm the benefits to the local community and the other to provide educational and job opportunities.
The deal with the community councils of Lairg, Creich and Ardgay & District is a fixed payment model that is set to rise in stages as profit from the wind farm increases and is estimated will provide around £8.5 million for the local economy during the 25 year life of the wind farm.
The money is to be invested in four main areas – creating jobs and skills training; affordable housing; better community transport and tourism development.
The second agreement is a voluntary partnership between WKN, Energy North, the organisation for businesses involved in the energy supply chain in the Highlands and North Highland College’s Environmental Research Institute, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. The partnership was signed in October 2012 and recognises two initiatives – a graduate placement scheme and a supply side incubator.
The graduate placement scheme will allow for up to five students during the construction phase of the wind farm to enrol in a 12 to 15 month internship within various industries that are important to the economy of the Highlands. Working with Energy North the supply side incubator initiative will ensure that local contractors have the opportunity to become Tier 2 contractors. It will also require any Tier 1 contractor to work with local companies during construction.
The partnership will be funded by WKN at a minimum level of £100,000, managed by the Environmental Research Institute and supported by Energy North who will promote graduate opportunities from within their membership.
Oliver Patent, Head of International Project Development, WKN stated: “We are delighted to reach this stage in the application process and to have submitted our addendum to Highland Council, which will allow residents to view the addendum at Highland Council’s Service Points at Lairg and Bonar Bridge and at Golspie Planning Office.
“We would like to thank the local community councils, local businesses and organisations for all their work and partnership with us as we have developed our proposals for Sallachy wind farm. We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Lairg, Creich and Ardgay & District Community Councils for a ground-breaking community benefit package in relation to the Sallachy wind farm proposals as well as an agreement with Energy North and North Highland College’s Environmental Research Institute for two exciting initiatives.
“If given the go ahead, this project will provide an inward investment of over £100m to benefit the Highland and Scottish economy, specifically that of the Sutherland region, as well as assisting the Scottish Government reach its ambitious target of 100% renewable energy generation by 2020.”
David Hannah, Chair of Ardgay & District Community Council said: “We are pleased to have signed this agreement with WKN regarding the community benefit from the proposed Sallachy wind farm. We welcome the opportunities that working with WKN and their team at Sallachy will bring for the greater benefits of all three communities.”
Ian Couper, Chief Executive of Energy North said: “We are delighted to have agreed a partnership with WKN and North Highland College. We believe WKN’s approach to engagement to be innovative and one that and has potential to be used as a model for future developers.”
The addendum is available at Highland Council’s Service Points at Lairg and Bonar Bridge and Highland Council’s Golspie Planning Office as well as on ‘Our Proposals – Downloads‘ page.