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Revised proposals for £30m Spittal Hill Wind Farm

13th May 2013

Revised proposals have been announced this week for a £30 million wind farm development at Spittal Hill, just over 2km north east of the village of Spittal in Caithness.
Comprising up to 8 turbines, with an installed capacity of up to 24 megawatts (MW), the proposals have been brought forward by Spittal Hill Windfarm Ltd, owned by Statkraft and a group of Highland based shareholders. These are considerably revised proposals from a previous larger scheme of 30-turbines which had a total installed capacity of 75MW.

The site benefits from good wind resource, with average wind speeds in the region of 9.5 metres per second, and the proposed turbines would have a height to blade tip of 100 metres, the same as the nearby Causeymire Wind Farm.

Spittal Hill Windfarm Ltd is committed to ensuring that the local community is given the opportunity to benefit significantly from the wind farm, working in partnership to deliver tangible long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for the local area.

In this context a community benefit fund, amounting to £5,000 per MW, which equates to up to £120,000 per year and up to £3 million over the 25 year life of the project is on offer to support local initiatives.

As with its sister development, Baillie Wind Farm, the local community would decide how these funds are managed and spent. This could include funding of skills and education opportunities, tourism infrastructure, social amenities, improved public transport, or contributions to household electricity bills and energy efficiency measures. Views on the initiatives and projects they would like to see this funding used to support local initiatives are welcome and will be sought during the planning process.

As with Baillie Wind Farm, which sees more than 15 local businesses involved and many of the contracts well in to six figures, Spittal Hill Wind Farm could provide a considerable boost to the local economy. This would see local firms participating in the construction of the wind farm, as well as supporting its operation and maintenance, bringing with it local employment and apprenticeship skills training and an anticipated 30 people employed during the construction period.

It also comes on the back of a recent report indicating that 90% of current energy industry jobs in the north Highlands will no longer exist by 2025, putting more pressure on new work coming on stream from the renewable oil and gas sector in Caithness.
According to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), 2066 people in Caithness and Sutherland are working in renewables, oil and gas and nuclear decommissioning.1

The total is largely made up of the Dounreay workforce, which stands at 1846. It leaves just 220 known full-time jobs or 11% in the energy industry outwith nuclear decommissioning.

The project, with an estimated capital investment of £30 million, could generate enough clean green electricity to meet the annual average household needs of around 17,260 homes. It could also offset around 31,663 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions each year, reducing the overall carbon footprint in Scotland and contribute to tackling climate change.

The proposals for Spittal Hill are still at a very early stage of development. However, Spittal Hill Windfarm Ltd is keen to engage with the local community, and extensive community engagement will be undertaken over the coming months to provide input and to help shape the plans for the site. This will include a website and a number of community consultation events.

Tom Pottinger from Spittal Hill Windfarm Ltd said:“Spittal Hill Wind Farm could generate enough electricity to meet the annual average needs of more than 17,000 homes. It could also offset more than 31,000 tonnes of harmful carbon dioxide emissions each year, helping to tackle climate change.

“We are through this process committed to ensuring that the local community is given the opportunity to benefit significantly from wind farm both through direct local employment opportunities and a substantial benefit fund of up to £3 million to support local initiatives.

“The development provides an excellent opportunity to deliver tangible long-term economic, social and environmental benefits to the local area and we look forward to engaging with the community over the next few months.”

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