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Inverness sports legend calls for use of renewable energy schemes to boost sports facilities in the city as Caley Thistle await crunch Highland Council planning on Fairways battery farm

By Alasdair Fraser

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Bailie Cup- 2022 at Bught Park.Colin Baillie.Picture Gary Anthony.
Bailie Cup- 2022 at Bught Park.Colin Baillie.Picture Gary Anthony.

A hugely respected Inverness sporting figure honoured for decades of coaching service is backing calls to use renewable energy schemes to fund better city sporting facilities.

Colin Bailie MBE, a retired PE teacher, deputy headmaster and athletics and rugby coach, made the plea as planners recommend refusal of a proposed £40 million battery storage development at Fairways Business Park.

The project by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, on land the football club owns, involves installation of 52 battery storage containers capable of storing up to 50 megawatt of electricity.

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If approved at tomorrow’s South Planning Applications Committee meeting at Highland

Council tomorrow, the club says it would guarantee its long-term financial stability.

Mr Baillie, who was honoured with the Freedom of Inverness in 2018 in recognition of his huge contribution to sport, says better facilities are desperately needed in Inverness.

Colin Baillie MBE. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Colin Baillie MBE. Picture: Callum Mackay.

He is acutely aware that sporting provision could be one of the first casualties of severe public spending cuts and believes that an alternative funding mechanism can be found by the Council by seeking community benefit through renewable projects.

Mr Baillie said: “I would love to see some of the income derived from the renewable energy battery storage facility diverted towards the provision of local community sporting facilities.

“The east side of Inverness is in urgent need of good sports and leisure facilities for all ages, but particularly our young people.

“It was really disappointing to learn only recently that plans for a £1.3 million all weather sports pitch at Inverness Campus have been shelved due to rising costs.

“At the Inverness Royal Academy playing fields, there is a great opportunity to meet the significant demand in this area of Inverness for grass pitches.

“The Trust have done a remarkable job to date in raising funds for draining the flooded playing fields but need additional funding to complete phase two, which will feature changing rooms, offices and refurbished toilets.

“Community benefit from the nearby battery storage facility could help complete the funding package.

Fordtown battery storage at Kintore
Fordtown battery storage at Kintore

“This funding model, using community benefit from the growing number of renewable energy facilities to fund sports facilities, could be mirrored across the Highlands.”

Mr Baillie is concerned that the Scottish Government and other national funding bodies will be unable to adequately fund sports facilities given the pressures on public spending.

The Highland Rugby Club honorary president and a life member of Inverness Harriers has spent his life playing, coaching and supporting sport of all kinds and stressed: “We need to consider an alternative source of funding.

“The two most successful sports ventures to be developed in Inverness in recent years are the facilities at Highland Rugby Club and the new King’s Golf Club. Both of these projects benefited off the back of the Southern Distributor Road developments.

“These have added greatly to the facilities for sports and leisure in the west side of Inverness.

“We now need to grab this opportunity of community benefit from Fairways and do the same for the east side of Inverness.”

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