Beinn Mhor Wind Farm
wpd Scotland, a commercial wind farm developer, is proposing to build a seven turbine wind farm with a generating capacity of up to 21MW near Tomich in the Scottish Highlands. It is estimated that the wind farm will generate enough electricity to supply 11,500 households and save around 527,000 tonnes of carbon emissions through the 25 year lifetime of the project.
The proposed wind farm is located near existing infrastructure including power lines and roads and environmental impact during construction is expected to be kept to a minimum. The project is currently awaiting planning permission but has already secured grid connection allowing export of electricity to the national grid from October 2016.
wpd have offered local communities an option to invest in the Beinn Mhor wind farm through Soirbheas, a local charity, that operates in the areas of Strathglass and Glen Urquhart. Soirbheas was established to benefit from the Corrimony Wind Farm, an earlier wind project in the area. The objectives of the organisation include improving the energy efficiency of housing in local communities and protecting the environment for future generations.
Legal structure & set-up
wpd Scotland is a company limited by guarantee, which aims to offer community investment for developments of five or more turbines. Soirbheas is a company limited by guarantee registered with charitable status and run by a voluntary board of directors.
Given the sensitivity of the site, the group is pleased that the planning application for the Beinn Mhor wind farm has received no objections from the statutory consultees, including Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
So far wpd Scotland and Soirbheas have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore how the two organisations could co-operate. This is due to be followed by an ‘option to invest’ agreement in the coming months.
If the development goes ahead, it is proposed that wpd Scotland will operate the wind farm, while Soirbheas will own a one-seventh equity stake or the equivalent of one turbine.
The Scottish Government Register of Community Benefits from Renewables is a voluntary register that encourages commercial wind farm developers to provide £5,000 (€6,250) per MW of installed capacity to local communities that host the developments. Unlike other developers wpd Scotland does not simply want to hand money over to a local community organisation on an annual basis but is exploring the option of paying community benefits (at the Net Present Value) for the lifetime of the wind farm up-front, enabling Soirbheas to buy a stake in the wind farm.
In turn Soirbheas gives out grants to community projects but also uses some of the money directly to run initiatives such as its Green Living Project.
- Addressing the concerns of local residents
- Communicating the key facts of technically complex studies
- Generating of green electricity in close proximity to existing grid infrastructure
- Income generation to help meet Soirbheas’ vision of a growing, greener and more vibrant community
Beinn Mhor, near Tomich, Strathglass
Size of Community
Local population approx. 2,600
Type of Energy Project
Stage of Development
Soirbheas Ltd is incorporated
Soirbheas and wdp sign Memorandum of Understanding
Soirbheas receives first payments from Corrimony Wind Farm
Determination of the planning application by The Highland Council
Earliest date for grid connection