PRESS RELEASE 10th November
WKN AG has welcomed the Highland Council officer’s recommendation of no change in response for Sallachy Wind Farm in light of the new Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).
Sallachy Wind Farm is be considered at Highland Council after the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents and Deployment Unit (ECDU) wrote to all consultees to ask for an update on their views on the scheme as a result of the new SPP. The ECDU is carrying out this update for all Section 36 projects which were submitted to the ECDU under the previous planning policy.
Highland Council, as a consultee as Sallachy is a Section 36 application, will consider Sallachy Wind Farm and another Section 36 application Glencassley WInd Farm at the North Planning Applications Committee on 11 November, with the Council recommending it has no additional representations to submit to the ECDU.
Highland Council ‘raised no objection’ to Sallachy in May 2013 and Highland Council’s planning officers found the application to be compliant with Highland Council policy and recommended to councillors to support the scheme.
The proposed Sallachy Wind Farm is located on the south-west shore of Loch Shin, northwest of Lairg for 22 turbines (66MW).
Since the ECDU wrote to consultees in September 2014, a number of new supportive representations have been made by residents, local groups and businesses for Sallachy. This includes the host community council Lairg Community Council and neighbouring community council Ardgay and District Community Council, who both changed their response from neutral to supportive letters to the ECDU.
WKN has fully engaged in the consultation process regarding the new SPP, providing evidence to the SNH consultation on wild land mapping and to the Scottish Government on the new SPP and NPF3.
In relation to wild land, the new SPP does not designate wild land but instead allows it to be considered alongside all other material planning considerations. The new SPP retains the flexibility for the planning authority (in this case Highland Council and the Scottish Government) to judge each application on its own merits and to come to a final view based on the economic and social benefits of the project.
Oliver Patent, Head of Development UK, said:
“WKN AG welcome the Scottish Government’s ECDU re-engaging with consultees on the Sallachy project in light of the new SPP as our project will now be determined under the new planning policy.
“It is vital that the view of the communities who live in Sutherland are heard. We hope the Highland Council maintains it position of raising no objection and continues to support our application and we look forward to working with the local communities to deliver a project that will benefit the local area.
“SPP explicitly supports sustainable development and we feel that our scheme has the potential to do exactly that by improving the social and economic environment of the community. We were pleased to be able to commit to a community benefit agreement for Lairg, Creich and Ardgay & District worth up to £8.5 million over 25 years.
“Sallachy represents an inward investment of over £100m and we have a partnership with Energy North to ensure local and Highland based contractors supply the various works for construction of the wind farm. We have also signed a partnership with the local college to ensure apprenticeships for local young people to benefit from the wind farm.”
Ian Couper said:
“Energy North has followed the wild land debate with interest and agree that developments require to be sensitively sited as in the case of Sallachy wind farm. We welcome the new Scottish Planning Policy supporting sustainable development – Sallachy offers a potentially huge economic boost to the Highlands. We welcome WKN’s willingness to work with local communities, companies and students to enhance the local economy.
“We believe WKN’s approach to engagement has been innovative and one that has potential to be used as a model for future developers. We have been in discussions with WKN since early 2012 regarding a possible tripartite partnership with us and the North Highland College’s Environmental Research Institute, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands to help boost education and skills in the Highlands during the construction phase of the wind farm, should it be consented.”