Plans submitted for £158m Highland wind farm

A formal planning application has been submitted for a £158 million wind farm at Glenshero in the Highlands.

SIMEC, part of the GFG Alliance, said its proposal follows a year of environmental and technical studies and extensive public consultation.

The company, which already operates a major hydro power plant linked to Liberty’s aluminium smelter at Fort William, has submitted an application to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit.

The 168-megawatt scheme, comprising 39 turbines located around eight kilometres north west of Laggan, is intended to provide green power for Scottish industry and represents a significant boost to the GFG Alliance’s investments in Scotland.

If approved, the wind farm would trigger up to £158m of capital investment with approximately £23m being spent in the Highland’s economy during construction alone. Contracts for services that would likely be awarded to local firms include; haulage, aggregate, plant hire, concrete, and accommodation.

The detailed environmental and technical studies as well as the consultation process has been conducted by leading renewable energy company RES, SIMEC’s chosen developer for the project. The consultation with the local community saw over 900 newsletters sent out to residents and over 70 attendees at public exhibitions at Laggan and Fort Augustus.

Under the Glenshero plans, steel for the wind-tower structures could also be rolled at GFG’s Liberty Dalzell plant in Motherwell and the towers possibly fabricated at a new neighbouring wind turbine manufacturing facility which the company hopes to set up.

The Glenshero project is also central to GFG Alliance’s vision to further develop the Lochaber estate lands for the benefit of the regional economy and communities. The aim is to enhance and expand existing hydro-power production as well as developing new recreational facilities, upgraded visitor accommodation, improved agriculture, forestry and fisheries, providing better access to the land and more support for new local businesses.

If approved, SIMEC intends to develop opportunities for the local community to share in the ownership of the wind farm.

Jay Hambro, chief executive of SIMEC, said: “Developing this wind farm will be a landmark for green energy in Scotland and we are proud to bring forward a project that will deliver clean, competitive power to Scottish industry and the wider economy. Onshore wind has been shown to provide one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of power on the market today so we look forward to pressing ahead with this exciting scheme.”

Duncan Mackison, chief executive of JAHAMA Highland Estates, the GFG division which manages and develops the estate lands, said: “This is a very exciting step for the project and our plans for the estate. We’re hugely grateful to everyone who participated in the public consultations – the feedback from local people, from our neighbours, together with our environmental studies has been used to inform the design of the proposals which we’ve now submitted.

“If approved this project will bring significant benefits to the local area and local economy both in the short term, as part of the construction and longer term as part of our plans to develop the estate and support local industry and jobs for years to come.”

Lucy Whitford, RES’ development director, added: “RES is delighted to be working with SIMEC on their first onshore wind proposal in the UK, as part of their unique GREENMETAL strategy. Glenshero Wind Farm will support Scottish industry by providing access to the lowest cost form of energy and will significantly benefit the local economy throughout construction.”

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