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Downscaling of Gordonbush Wind Farm extension leads to community benefit cut

By Caroline McMorran

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Communities affected by the 11-turbine Gordonbush Wind Farm extension will not receive as much benefit from it as had initially been anticipated.

Helmsdale, Brora, Golspie and Rogart had been led to expect a windfall of around £30,000 each per year for the life of the extension, which is currently under construction.

Gordonbush Wind Farm is located in Strath Brora.
Gordonbush Wind Farm is located in Strath Brora.

This calculation was based on a £2500 per megawatt pay-out with the 11-turbine development having an installed capacity of 47mw.

However it was stated at a meeting of Rogart Community Council last Tuesday that the extension’s generating capacity is being downscaled to 38mw because of grid contraints.

Chairman Frank Roach said he had learned of the move at a meeting with representatives of developers SSE Renewables.

He said: “Because this is a subsidy free wind farm, SSE cannot afford to sign themselves up for large amounts of community benefit going out if the grid cannot support their output.

“The output they can actually sell is 38mw. The additional 9mw might be deployed a some point.”

He added: “This takes down our annual sum to under £25,000 a year. My personal feeling is that we have to accept it. It means we will get £5000 less a year over 25 years, so £125,000 less in total.”

The four community councils are being asked how they would like the funds to be administered. SSE has suggested that the community benefit could be awarded on an annual basis or could be invested with the funds realised at the end of a term. Foundation Scotland would help groups to set up an endowment.

Mr Roach said that a meeting of the community councils had recently taken place. Golspie and Brora were opting for the endowment route while Helmsdale and Rogart were keen to receive annual sums.

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