Communities on Speyside are celebrating a £4 million cash boost following a two-year battle with an energy giant over fears they were being short-changed.
Villages in Moray stand to benefit from the huge 59-turbine Dorenell Wind Farm on the Glenfiddich Estate south of Dufftown.
However, anger grew when it emerged the size of the community benefit fund put forward by operator EDF Renewables was less than half of what Scottish Government guidance recommended.
Initial offers proposed £2,000 per MW of energy generated when guidelines encourage developers to pay £5,000 – meaning a projected £27.5m fund over the 25-year lifespan of the development would be slashed to £11m.
Now campaigners have announced that negotiations have boosted the total to £16m to benefit residents in Dufftown, Auchindoun, Glenrinnes, Glenlivet, Inveravon and the Cabrach.
Despite the total continuing to fall short of the Scottish Government guidance, locals are “delighted” to secure the extra cash for the area.
Fraser McGill, chairman of Dufftown Community Association, said: “It’s a moment to celebrate, some of the community representatives have dedicated years to this and without their persistence there would not have been such a favourable outcome.
“It’s a fitting end to the commitment which volunteers have shown. The communities are looking forward to maximising the benefits that we can achieve from this substantial amount of money.”
The extra investment includes an additional £1m grant from EDF to a special projects fund that will run during the first five years of the wind farm.
Mr McGill explained that money would be invested in an endowment fund to continue to benefit villages beyond the lifespan of the turbines.
Tricia Lawson, secretary of Glenlivet and Inveravon Community Association, said: “We’re delighted that after protracted negotiations we will be able to participate along with the other communities to help residents create an enduring legacy.
“The fund will bring exciting opportunities for large and small projects, which will enable members of all age groups within our communities to help support a viable future.”
EDF declared the wind farm open last September after planning permission was granted by the Scottish Government in 2011.
Applications to the community benefit fund, which will be administered by independent charity Foundation Scotland, will open on July 1. EDF was approached to comment.