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Villagers welcome plans for windfarms

Villagers welcome plans for windfarms
A tiny far north community is in line to be a hub for one of the biggest conglomerations of wind turbines in the UK, and residents seem to be in favour so far.

A tiny far north community is in line to be a hub for one of the biggest conglomerations of wind turbines in the UK, and residents seem to be in favour so far.

SSE is seeking permission for two farms near the coastal village of Strathy and a third is in the offing from developer E.ON.

Should all three get the green light, it would make the area home to 138 turbines – two fewer than Europe’s biggest onshore windfarm at Eaglesham Moor, south of Glasgow.

The Strathy ventures, however, would churn out 337MW, a much bigger potential output.

According to the developers, the turbines could supply the energy needs of more than 270,000 homes – all from a village with about 200 inhabitants.

So far the community has been receptive to the interest in harnessing one of the area’s most abundant natural resources.

They have been in detailed discussions with SSE representatives about potential local spin-offs from its Strathy North development, which is on a tract of woodland, over five miles south of the village. SSE is also seeking approval for a 77-turbine scheme at nearby Strathy South.

Highland Council has opted not to object to the 33 turbines, which would have a wing-tip height of 360ft.

A Scottish Government decision on this is expected before the end of the year.

E.ON has meanwhile revealed it is investigating a 84MW scheme, involving up to 28 turbines, on ground between the SSE sites.

Janette Mackay, chairwoman of Strathy and Armadale Community Council, said yesterday: “It does look like the Strathy North development is going to go ahead.

“If it’s going to bring some benefit to the community, we think it makes sense to go along with it.

“SSE have agreed to use local labour and local contractors in the construction work and offered the prospect of apprenticeships for local youngsters.

“Even if meant two or three of our youngsters got a job which kept them living here rather than moving away, it would be good news.”

Mrs Mackay, of Honeysuckle Cottage, Strathy, said the discussions have gone on as part of the overall community benefit fund SSE would set up.

Unlike other controversial windfarm schemes in the far north, she said the inland, woodland site is well away from housing.

She added: “The turbines would be well out off the beaten track – not looking on to houses, as some of the other schemes do.”

The retired teacher stressed that the community council has still to firm up its stance on the other two schemes.

E.ON is putting its plans on view at a drop-in session at Strathy Hall on Wednesday, September 28, from 2-8pm.

Project manager Ahmed Mulla said: “We think this is a great place for a windfarm – it’s very windy, has good road access and we can easily plug it into the local power network.”

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