Two wind farm schemes approved
Two wind farm schemes that can supply around 45,000 homes with electricity have been approved.
The 52.5 Megawatt (MW) Baillie wind farm near Thurso will supply almost 25,000 homes and feed electricity in to the upgraded Beauly-Denny line. The £80 million scheme will create 30 jobs during construction with permanent local operation and maintenance jobs. The applicant will make an annual contribution to the West Caithness Community Fund to support local projects and five local businesses will be supported by rental income.
An extension to the Rothes wind farm near Elgin will boost capacity by an additional 45 MW, increasing the generating capacity from 50 MW to 95 MW. The extension will be capable of supplying over 20,000 homes. Around 60 construction jobs will be created, with permanent local operation and maintenance jobs. A community benefit fund will also be established.
Energy Minister Jim Mather said:
"These schemes are good for Scotland's low carbon economy and further examples of the action we need to take now to tackle climate change. The north of Scotland has huge renewables potential and these two schemes will provide tangible, lasting benefits to the communities involved as well as a reduction in carbon emissions.
"We are already on track to surpass our target of meeting 31 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2011, and a whole range of renewable technologies will play their part in achieving our target of 50 per cent by 2020."
In July 2004, Baillie Wind Farm Ltd applied for consent to construct and operate a wind farm at Bardnaheigh Farm, Westfield, by Thurso in Caithness. Following amendments to the application, the scheme now comprises 21 wind turbines with a capacity of 52.5 MW.
1,262 public representations were received - 829 in support and 433 objections. Following an objection from Highland Council, Ministers agreed to refer the application to Public Local Inquiry which was held in Thurso in March 2008. The Reporter recommended consent should be granted.
Rothes wind farm (formerly known as Cairn Uish) was consented in January 2003. In December 2007, Rothes II Ltd (a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Renewables Ltd) applied for consent to increase the operating capacity of the wind farm by expanding the site capacity by 14 turbines and increasing the height of four turbines which already have consent but have not been built yet. This application for additional capacity would bring the total electricity generation up to 95 MW.
Following consultation, Moray Council supported the application in June 2009. A total of 37 objections were received during the consultation period.
The Scottish Government's target is to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. In 2008, 22 per cent of electricity demand came from renewables.
There is 6.9 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, which will take Scotland beyond the interim target of 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables by 2011.
The Scottish Government's Energy Consents and Deployment Unit is currently processing 37 applications (23 onshore wind, 12 hydro and two thermal), amounting to 3 GW.
The Scottish Government has already determined 35 energy applications, including approval for 30 renewable and one non-renewable project since May 2007 - more determinations than over the whole of the previous four years, in which 19 projects were determined.