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INVERNESS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Wind Farms – can they benefit my local community?

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We’re delighted to hand over this month’s column to Jilly Adams, lead renewables developer, at BayWa r.e. UK Limited, one of Inverness Chamber’s Executive Partners.

Our natural landscape is one of our region’s greatest assets that provides an invaluable source of clean energy. Wind is a valuable resource which plays a huge role in both supporting our energy security and, in the long term, helping to reduce commercial and domestic electricity pricing. And as BayWa r.e. explain – wind farms are now approved and built with commitments that they also enhance to the local biodiversity.

BayWa r.e.’s Corriegarth 2 Wind Farm near Gorthleck was approved by Scottish Ministers in December 2023. With a grid connection date of summer 2026, BayWa r.e. is preparing to start construction for Corriegarth 2 in spring 2025. This includes tendering for construction contracts, which will take place during 2024. If you would be interested in providing a guest column, please email membership@inverness-chamber.co.uk

Jilly Adams, lead renewables developer.
Jilly Adams, lead renewables developer.

Jilly Adams, lead renewables developer, at BayWa r.e. UK Limited

With more wind farms being planned and constructed in Scotland to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets of installing an additional 20 GW of onshore wind capacity by 2030, local residents might wonder: “Can we benefit from wind farms?” The answer is definitely: Yes!

Wind farms bring numerous benefits to local communities in the UK, contributing to environmental, economic, as well as social improvements.

How does a wind farm improve the local environment?

Wind farm developments, such as Corriegarth 2, produce enough green energy to supply tens of thousands of UK households per year. Looking at the Corriegarth 2 development, which has recently received planning approval, with a capacity of 70 MW it would be able to produce enough power to meet 82 per cent of the total electricity demand in Inverness, and 16 per cent in the Highlands overall. Wind farms produce no pollution or waste during their operation and are therefore not as environmentally harmful as other forms of energy generation.

Wind farms, unlike conventional energy sources, can also make positive contributions to environmental conservation, as renewable energy projects will usually include a range of local

biodiversity and habitat enhancement schemes. The Corriegarth 2 project, for example, goes beyond the generation of power: it includes an innovative enhancement plan to restore around 100 hectares of upland peat bog. Peat restoration not only improves the habitat for a wide range of plants and animals crucial for local biodiversity conservation; it also naturally captures carbon from the atmosphere, locking it up for millennia, reducing greenhouse gas emissions for generations to come.

Wind farm developers in the Highlands support several wider conservation initiatives. To amplify these efforts via our Corriegarth 2 project, we are committed to supporting the Regional Eagle

Conservation Management Plan; a golden eagle research, conservation and monitoring project centred in the Monadhliath mountains.

Wind farms, like hydro schemes before them, are now an accepted part of the Scottish landscape with each project being designed to achieve a balance between reducing visual impacts and

maximising the amount of clean, renewable energy being generated.

How does a wind farm empower the economy?

The most obvious benefit of a wind farm is the production of clean, renewable and domestically generated energy that helps to meet the government’s Net Zero goals. By decreasing the UK’s

dependency on a foreign supply of fossil fuels, wind farms are pivotal in fortifying the UK’s energy security through diversified sources of domestic power generation. In times of energy shortages or disruption, which we have experienced recently, having a diversified energy mix that includes wind power ensures a more stable and secure supply – for you and your community.

Moreover, the establishment of wind farms creates job opportunities within the community. From construction and maintenance to operational roles, these projects stimulate local employment. New and experienced workers alike can take advantage of opportunities offered by new developments, boosting the overall economic activity in the region. Considering BayWa r.e.’s Corriegarth 2 project, construction is anticipated to inject an estimated £11 million into the Highland economy, with £32 million that will be spent in Scotland overall.

How does a wind farm enrich local life in a community?

Community engagement and empowerment are vital aspects of wind farm developments. As a responsible developer, BayWa r.e. has prioritised engaging local people in the planning and decision-

making process of Corriegarth 2. We actively support community initiatives, such as the Corriegarth Gala Day and the Highland & Island Thistle Awards. Additionally, once operational, Corriegarth 2 will establish a community benefit fund of over £330,000 a year. This means that over the lifetime of the project, almost £10 million will be available to support local charities and community projects – directly enhancing the quality of life for local residents.

Winds farms also generate a range of wider economic and social opportunities, including payment to local authorities of several million pounds in non-domestic business rates contributing to council funding.

Wind farms are symbols of progress and sustainability. From providing clean and sustainable energy to creating jobs and fostering community engagement; the positive impacts are multifaceted. As the world moves towards renewable energy, wind farms serve as beacons of sustainable development, meeting the needs of current and future generations. The winds of change are blowing, and with wind farms, local communities can reap the rewards.

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