The developers of the 22-turbine wind farm at Sallachy, near Lairg, have announced today a community benefit scheme which will be one of the largest, per MW, in the country.
Under the programme, the community would see the amount of benefit per MW increasing over the 25 year period, as the initial investment is paid off.
This innovative fund would be worth more than £8m over the 25 year lifetime of the wind farm.
Payments into the community benefit fund could start at £3500 per MW per annum, but would then rise to a ground breaking £7500 per MW per year - a figure which far exceeds the current Highland Council recommendation of £5000 per MW annum.
Developers WKN AG, say the figures represent a potentially significant economic boost to the local area.
The proposed wind farm is situated on the Sallachy and Duchally Estates, which jointly employ nearly 60 local people and are key to tourism and land management in the area.
The income from the Sallachy Wind Farm will encourage the estates to diversify their activities, become more self sufficient and create numerous jobs.
For the past two years, WKN has been actively consulting with the local communities who live near the site to brief them on plans, gain feedback on the proposed 66mw wind farm, and take forward a positive community benefit package.
In particular, WKN has been liaising with Lairg Community Council, Creich Community Council, and Ardgay and District Community Council to deliver the most appropriate Community Benefit offering to the area.
Local people have said they would like the Scottish Community Foundation to administer the fund with them.
Additional to the package, WKN is also in discussions with the North Highland College about assisting with both a graduate placement scheme and a “supply-side incubator” promoting local businesses for the project construction contracts, and with the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust about helping the communities open up new housing opportunities in the area.
* More on this story in tomorrow’s Northern Times.