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SSE Renewables projects in the Great Glen generate £360m and 130 jobs in Great Glen


By John Davidson

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Stronelairg wind farm near Fort Augustus. Picture: Stuart Nicol/SSE
Stronelairg wind farm near Fort Augustus. Picture: Stuart Nicol/SSE

The Great Glen is feeling a jobs boost alongside £360 million of added value from SSE Renewables' projects in the area, according to a new study.

The company's report, Generating Benefits in the Great Glen, looked at the socio-economic impacts of its renewables assets between Inverness and Fort William.

Focused on developments since 2012, when it reopened its Glendoe hydro station, the report – which includes analysis undertaken by BiGGAR Economics – also takes into account onshore wind farm developments at Dunmaglass, Bhlaraidh and Stronelairg.

The increasing number of wind farms around Loch Ness, in particular, led to concerns of a 'ring of steel' surrounding the world-famous waters.

However, SSE Renewables says the four projects are expected to generate more than £1.2 billion of value for the Scottish economy during their lifetime, with £360 million of this directly in the Great Glen.

A total of 130 jobs will be supported by the projects annually during their operation in the glen, while a further 250 jobs across Scotland are expected to be supported.

The analysis found that UK supply chain content across the four projects was 77 per cent, with the majority of this made up of Scottish companies and businesses. Local firms, including Highland-based RJ McLeod and Fort William-based Corrie construction, were employed to deliver key parts of the projects, with over a third of project expenditure found to be within the Highland region.

Community caretakers from Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company.
Community caretakers from Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company.

The community funds associated with each of the sites, which have already invested £2.7 million to 208 projects from 2016-19, support projects from apprenticeships through to the construction of a new medical centre. Over the lifetime of the funds, the projects will bring a total of £57.2 million of investment to the Great Glen and wider Highland area.

To help understand the wider value created as a result of this community fund investment in the area, a ‘social return on investment’ analysis was carried out, showing that, for every £1 invested, £1.93 of wider value was created for the local community.

Jim Smith, managing director of SSE Renewables, said: “Renewable energy isn’t just about generating low-carbon energy, it’s about helping to revitalise and regenerate rural communities.

“We have always spoken of the benefits our projects bring during construction, but this report has shown the benefits of our renewable projects go well beyond this, bringing investment and supporting jobs throughout their lifetime.

“Of course, the numbers are important, but sometimes it can be hard to understand just what they mean for a community. That’s why this report looks beyond the numbers. We spoke to community members, recipients of our community funds, local suppliers and members of the hospitality industry – so we can hear, directly from them, about the contribution these sites have had on them.

“It’s fantastic to think that, through these sites, we have been able to support a medical centre, a care housing project, community caretakers, road improvements, eagle conservation plans and one of the most exciting walking trails in Scotland, to name a few.”

SSE Renewables funded a new five-mile stretch of the South Loch Ness Trail between Fort Augustus and Loch Tarff. Picture: John Davidson
SSE Renewables funded a new five-mile stretch of the South Loch Ness Trail between Fort Augustus and Loch Tarff. Picture: John Davidson

SSE Renewables currently operates nearly 2GW of onshore wind farms across the UK and Ireland, with a further 1GW in the pipeline. Its 1459MW hydro portfolio includes 300MW of pumped storage and 750MW of flexible hydro with a potential 1500MW pumped storage hydro scheme, Coire Glas, in the pipeline.


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