Farmers in the Highlands have won funding from Europe’s Leader initiative to help them develop wind energy schemes.
The Tore-based Highland Business Services Ring is also receiving assistance from the Co-operative Enterprise Hub for the project which involves the two-year appointment of a development officer to identify sites for 800KW to 2MW turbines.
Farmer Alan Whiteford, who has led the steering group behind the initiative, acknowledged yesterday that wind power was controversial, but he hoped communities would buy into any generation schemes through being involved in them.
He said: “I quite accept there is opposition. But how big that is I do not know. I do know it is very vocal. That is understandable as folk see big structures going up and no one getting any income or benefit from them.”
Mr Whiteford, of Castlecraig, Nigg, said any scheme taken forward would have community engagement at its heart from the outset.
He added: “We want their participation and stakeholding. We want to spread any income to as wide a grouping as we can. Most of the windfarm developments here are owned by big companies and the money from them goes out of the area.”
Market research shows good interest among the ring’s 1,100 farmer members for renewable energy, but how many will become involved has yet to be seen.
Mr Whiteford expects four or five schemes involving between one and three turbines being progressed. But more might well happen, he added. The turbines envisaged are at least 150ft high.
He did not rule out the rings’ involvement in other types of renewable energy, such as hydro and biomass.
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson, the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s rural affairs, climate change and environment committee, is supporting the project.