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£9million wind farm fund could be shot in the arm for Caithness community

13th November 2012

Photograph of £9million wind farm fund could be shot in the arm for Caithness community

The £9million community benefit fund associated with Infinergy’s Limekiln wind farm proposal could help villagers in Reay safeguard their community’s future with a range of innovative projects designed to boost economic growth and tourism potential.

Green energy firm Infinergy is offering the community surrounding its 24-turbine Limekiln wind farm proposal an industry-leading community benefit package worth £5,000 per megawatt (MW) – a total of up to £360,000 per year or £9million over the 25 year lifetime of the project, based on a total installed capacity of up to 72MW.

The site is located about 2km south of the village of Reay.

Since launching the proposal for Limekiln earlier this year, Infinergy has set up a Community Liaison Forum bringing together representatives of Caithness West Community Council, Melvich Community Council, Reay Primary school, Caithness Chamber of Commerce and Thurso College to discuss how the fund could operate and the priorities it could support.

Membership of the liaison forum does not imply support for the proposal and members are free to take whatever stance they wish on the eventual planning application.

The group has discussed a range of ideas which could be implemented if the project gets the go-ahead, including:

* A community enterprise café or shop, with attached accommodation for visiting groups such as students studying the local flora and fauna
* Improved facilities for surfers and others using the beach, such as showers and changing rooms
* A community bus to supplement the currently poor public transport provision serving Reay
* Support for local small businesses including funding for apprenticeships and grants to help start-up and smaller firms get off the ground
* Improvements at the Limekiln site to allow it to be used for mountain biking and integration with long-distance footpath networks

Fiona Milligan, Infinergy’s Inverness-based project manager, said:“The community liaison forum has produced some great ideas about how the community benefit could be used to create a lasting legacy by supporting economic development.

“Reay and surrounding areas face issues with depopulation which are compounded by poor public transport links and a lack of employment opportunities, encouraging young people to head elsewhere for work. These problems may be made more acute when decommissioning at Dounreay eventually finishes.

“The innovative ideas suggested by the liaison forum show that local people are serious about maintaining Reay’s vibrant community well into the future.

“Infinergy set up the community liaison forum to ensure that the community benefit fund’s priorities are identified at an early stage, to avoid the situation seen in some other areas where inadequate planning has led to funds going unspent and not achieving the good for the community they have the potential to do. Although we won’t know the outcome of the planning application for some time, we think it’s best to have done some of the groundwork in advance.”

As well as meetings of the community liaison forum in May and September this year, Infinergy held well-attended community engagement events in March and May, to gather local views before submitting its planning application for Limekiln. The company anticipates submitting a planning application for the £110m scheme before the end of the year.

About Limekiln Wind Farm
The Limekiln wind farm proposal is for 24 turbines on a site located around 2km south of Reay, and 2.8km south/southwest of the existing Dounreay Power Station. The project would have a total installed electricity generating capacity of up to 72 megawatts (MW), capable of powering around 36,000 homes – equivalent to 35% of all Highland households – and displacing around 80,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
See also - www.limekilnwindfarm.co.uk

About Infinergy Ltd:
Infinergy is a wind farm development company, committed to renewable energy to help preserve our planet. We develop onshore wind farms throughout the UK. For more information, please visit www.infinergy.co.uk

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