Wind farm allowed due to local community economic benefits

An Electricity Act consent and deemed planning permission has been granted for a wind farm scheme in Scotland, comprising 8 wind turbines of up to 136m and 7 wind turbines of up to 152m, due to the economic benefits to the local community.

The wind farm had a generating capacity of 60MW which would provide power equivalent to the needs of approximately 28,320 homes. It was stated that the development was likely to have some positive socio-economic effects with the total investment spend over the lifetime of the development projected in the region of £70.5 million, a proportion of which would filter down to the local community in employment. The company was committed to increasing direct economic benefits of wind farms within local communities, and therefore would agree with the council a minimum percentage of the total capital construction value of the project which would be spent locally (within 30km of the site). To maximise local investment the developer would work closely with the council as well as their main suppliers and contractors to ensure that where local companies with appropriate skills, experience and capability were available, these companies would be used ahead of non-local companies, subject only to them offering services at competitive market rates.

Concerns had been raised about the landscape and visual impact of the proposed wind farm on a nearby village, an SLA as well as the cumulative effect of the proposal in relation to a wind farm cluster within the area. The relocation of 4 turbines and the  removal of 2 turbines had made a slight improvement on the visual impact on the village and the Scottish Ministers found that the proposed wind farm now appeared to be "thinned out". Overall, Scottish Ministers accepted that landscape and visual impacts remained but recognised that these had been reduced and were of the opinion that any remaining impacts were outweighed by the benefits of the renewable energy generation that the development would bring. The Scottish Ministers were satisfied that any environmental issues could be appropriately addressed by way of mitigation, and that any impacts which remained were outweighed by the benefits the development would bring.

Head of Energy Consents: Simon Coote; Inquiry

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