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Report reveals renewables’ contribution to rural Scotland

By Calum MacLeod

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Construction work underway at the Glendoe hydro scheme, one of the projects highlighted in the new report.
Construction work underway at the Glendoe hydro scheme, one of the projects highlighted in the new report.

RENEWABLE energy's impact on the economy of rural Scotland has been highlighted in a new new publication by industry body Scottish Renewables.

The report is an easily-accessible review of five economic studies carried out over the past three years from Orkney t;o Dumfries and Galloway and including the impact of projects in the Great Glen and Caithness.

The Great Glen project created three wind farms at Stronelairg, Bhlaraidh and Dunmaglass,and a hydropower station at Glendoe. These will generate £1.2 billion for Scotland’s economy over their lifetime, with £360 million of that staying in the local area and another £120 million being added to the wider Highland economy.

The development also saw the establishment and operation of a local quarry and concrete plant, along with activity in numerous sectors including civil and electrical engineering, environmental and technical evaluation and monitoring, plant hire, fencing and hospitality.

While the development phase of the projects supported the equivalent of 1860 years of employment in the Highlands, the projects’ 25-year operational phase will support 170 jobs in the region, 130

of which will be in the Great Glen itself.

Scottish Renewables director of Communications, Nick Sharpe.
Scottish Renewables director of Communications, Nick Sharpe.

In Caithness, more than 90,000 overnight hotel stays were generated during the construction of the £970 million, 70-mile Caithness-Moray undersea cable, worth an estimated £4.5 million to the region.

The project, which was completed last year, was the largest investment in the north of Scotland’s electricity network since the hydro development era of the 1950s.

It employed 217 locally resident workers and saw £47 million of contracts were awarded to businesses through the Open4Business Highlands and Islands portal, among them businesses in Wick, Thurso, Brora and Forres.

Further good news for the Far North came from the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, the largest private sector investment in Scottish history and worth an estimated £2 billion in contracts to Scottish companies alone.

Beatrice supported 7180 years of employment in Scotland during its development and construction phases and will support 370 long term jobs, 100 of which will be permanent posts in Wick.

Nick Sharpe, director of communications and strategy at Scottish Renewables, said: "Renewable energy already employs 17,700 people in Scotland, and we know that many of those jobs are in remote or rural areas where this type of sustainable development, leading to skilled, non-seasonal work, is badly needed.

“This report shows the remarkable and undeniable breadth and depth of this industry’s positive impact on rural Scotland.

“Approval ratings for renewable energy deployment continue to rise, and there is a pressing need to build more generation capacity both to tackle the climate emergency and secure a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind we hope this short publication will act as a focal point for sustainable decisions on the future of renewables in rural Scotland in future.”

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