WKN AG, one of Europe’s leading and most experienced renewable energy developer, has today signed a Community Benefit agreement at an event at the Falls of Shin visitor centre. The agreement is for an innovative and ground-breaking Community Benefit Scheme linked to the proposed Sallachy wind farm, near Lairg, which would exceed the Highland Council’s recommended levels for a Community Benefit Scheme over a 25 year period.
For the past two years, WKN has been actively consulting with the local communities who live near the site to brief them on plans, gain feedback on the proposed 66MW wind farm, and take forward a positive community benefit package. In particular, WKN has been liaising with Lairg Community Council, Creich Community Council, and Ardgay & District Community Council to deliver the most appropriate Community Benefit offering to the area.
Following this extensive dialogue, WKN is pleased to announce that they have agreed a community benefit scheme with all three community councils local to the wind farm. The community benefit resulting from the scheme has been agreed as an escalating fixed payment programme. Under this programme, the community would see the amount of benefit per MW increasing over the 25 year period as the initial investment is paid off.
This innovative fund would be worth more than £8m over the 25 year lifetime of the wind farm. Payments into the community benefit fund could start at £3,500 per MW per annum, before rising to a ground breaking £7,500 per MW per annum – a figure that far exceeds the current Highland Council recommendations. The community would like the Scottish Community Foundation to administer the fund with them.
Oliver Patent, Head of International Project Development, WKN stated: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Lairg, Creich and Ardgay & District Community Councils for this ground breaking Community Benefit package in relation to the Sallachy wind farm proposals. We have spent a great deal of time liaising with the local community to find the most appropriate community benefit package, which addresses the issues most relevant to the area, and we are proud of the proposed Scheme.
“This strategic Section 36 project, which consists of 22, 3 MW turbines will produce enough energy to power 34,000 homes in the Highlands. It will also provide an inward investment of approximately £100m to benefit the Highland and Scottish economy, specifically that of the Sutherland region, as well as assist 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 today 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. With an already established panel we are working in close partnership with Lairg and Creich Community Councils, Energy Companies and the Scottish Communities Foundation to ensure that everyone gains the maximum advantages from these windfalls.
The company announced the submission of their Sallachy Wind Farm project to the Scottish Government in December 2011. The proposed wind farm is situated on the Sallachy and Duchally Estates in Central Sutherland, and represents a potentially significant economic boost to the local area. The two estates jointly employ nearly 60 local people and are key to tourism and land management in the area. The income from the Sallachy Wind Farm will encourage the estates to diversify their activities, become more self sufficient and create numerous jobs.