Scottish Government grant permission for Infinergy's Tom nan Clach Wind Farm

Infinergy has welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to grant approval to the 17 turbine Tom nan Clach Wind Farm, following a joint Public Local Inquiry with neighbouring Glenkirk Wind Farm.

Esbjorn Wilmar, Managing Director of Infinergy said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government has given consent to the Tom nan Clach project.”

“Whilst this process has been a lengthy one, we felt from the outset that it was an excellent site and design, an assertion supported by the lack of objections from the majority of statutory consultees. The site has outstanding wind speeds, similar to offshore wind farms, so we expect to see very good yields generated. Our next step is to secure a timely grid connection from SHETL which would allow us to move forward quickly.”

Once constructed, the wind farm will start to make important contributions to the ambitious renewable energy targets that have been set by both The Highland Council and the Scottish Government as part of their policy to ensure greater diversity and security of electricity supplies.

At that time this joint venture with Cawdor Estates will also enable further inward investment into the area by the land owner, as a long-term stakeholder, providing income and sustaining jobs both directly and indirectly.

The community benefit associated with Tom nan Clach has been agreed at an industry leading £5000 per MW of installed capacity, equivalent to around £195,000 per year for the 25 year life of the wind farm. This sum was championed by The Highland Council and will be split between a number of strategic priorities such as skills and jobs for the area as well as a more traditional ‘trust fund’ which surrounding communities will be able to bid into for smaller scale local projects. In addition the project will contribute over £630,000 per year in business rates.

One strategic local priority being considered which could receive up to a quarter of the fund is skills development. Helping provide practical training to equip people with the skills they need to work in the rural economy will help provide a new generation of young people in threatened traditional Highland skills such as stonemasonry, leadwork and woodcraft.

Fiona Milligan, Inverness-based Project Manager for Infinergy, said:

“The Highlands are justly proud of the traditional occupations and skills that contribute to making the area such an attractive place to live and visit. However, many of the custodians of those skills are getting older and without new blood there’s a danger that they could be lost in future. This issue has recently been recognised by The Highland Council who noted concerns and a number of recommendations on the matter within supplementary guidance to the council's Highland-wide Local Development Plan.

“We are keen to see the community benefit fund associated with Tom nan Clach used to support skills training for young people. While we would not be prescriptive about this, our work to date has shown a big appetite locally for gaining skills such as stonemasonry that are crucial to the economy – and people’s enjoyment – of the Highlands.

“We are in discussions with local Community Councils and skills training providers as to how this could work in practice.”

Angus McNicol, Managing Agent of Cawdor Estates, added:

“As a major landowner in the Highlands, Cawdor Estates is committed to ensuring the viability and economic sustainability of the rural areas for which we are responsible.”

“It is crucial that local expertise in traditional skills is not lost, not least because the Highlands’ older buildings, dry-stone walls and bridges are so vital to the area’s traditional character.”

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