Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables, a prominent windfarm developer, announcedthey are examining the potential for a significant windfarm in the Lowther Hills in Dumfries and Galloway as part of a major land use strategy.
If the project proceeds, the partners say the economic, environmental and community benefits could transform the area.
Preliminary discussions have been held among Buccleuch, 2020 Renewables, other local landowners, Dumfries and Galloway Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Government. No decision to proceed has been taken to date and a range of options are under consideration.
John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “We have a structured approach to land management that involves looking at land use from an economic delivery and environment perspective and what it can deliver for the local, regional and sometimes national interest.
“It appears to us that this area of land could potentially deliver more both economically and environmentally and provide more benefit to local and regional communities. At present, we are undertaking feasibility work into a number of proposals and will discuss the results of our work with consultees and the communities.
The proposed site is near the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands Special Protection Area. Initially, consideration was given to the potential for turbines to be erected on the SPA but instead it is proposed to create extensive and detailed habitat management plans to enable positive and innovative peatland and heather restoration.
The Lowther Hills project and the Glenmuckloch Mine restoration site offer the opportunity to provide substantial economic benefit to the area.
John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “The transformation of Glenmuckloch has shown what can be achieved by co-operation and a constructive approach by local and national government as well as businesses such as Buccleuch. This new project offers a great blend of energy, biodiversity, and habitat management.
“We engaged with local and national government from an early stage in order to gain their input and understand what their ambitions were in order to see what balance of land use would be optimal and acceptable. There will also be very extensive local community engagement as the proposals are developed. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no connection between this project and other much-debated projects in the area, to which we have no objection and are considerable distances away.”
Alan Baker, managing director of 2020 Renewables, said: “We are still in the early stages of this process and continue to develop our thinking. However, it is apparent that the site in question has tremendous potential to deliver economic and environmental benefit on a very significant scale.
“When a windfarm is being considered on this scale it is normal practice to sound out Scottish Government and other statutory consultees early in the process before embarking on a stakeholder engagement programme. Community engagement is of paramount importance and will be undertaken intensively prior to a consent application to the Scottish Government.”