Plans for a significant energy project near Sanquhar are to be considered by Dumfries & Galloway Council’s planning committee next week.
The North Lowther Energy Initiative (NLEI), a partnership between Buccleuch and Forsa Energy, will be considered by the council’s planning committee on October 18th, with councillors subsequently advising the Scottish Government whether the council agrees to the proposal or not.
Revised plans for the scheme were submitted in April this year, removing five turbines from the original 35-turbine application. This change was made to avoid visibility of turbines from the Mennock Pass and has also allowed RSPB to withdraw its earlier objection.
Previous consultee comments relating to impacts on peatland and ecology have addressed in the latest submission and officers at SEPA and Dumfries and Galloway Council have now raised no objection in relation to pollution risk from former mine workings.
If the application is successful, NLEI could deliver a host of environmental and economic benefits, on top of providing renewable energy for nearly 80,000 homes. NLEI includes provision for a habitat management plan with a focus on managing and improving upland habitats and monitoring of bird species.
The project could provide a boost to local economic development. It is committed to providing community benefit to the local area in line with the recommended rate of £5,000 per MW. This could be up to £735,000 per annum for local communities – more than £18 million over the lifetime of the development. NLEI could also support around 100 jobs during the two years of construction, with 33 full time equivalent jobs supported across the region during operation.
Buccleuch and Forsa Energy are developing NLEI in tandem with the Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme and Glenmuckloch Windfarm. The developers have been working with local development agencies and training providers to identify the economic opportunities from these projects, as well as any challenges realising these projects in the local area.
Alan Baker, Chief Executive Officer of Forsa Energy, said: “Since submitting the initial application in June 2017, we’ve been working hard to speak to stakeholders to listen to their views on the plans. We have also been working with local stakeholders to put together a plan that will help Upper Nithsdale benefit from the economic opportunity.
“We are confident that the proposal has balanced the views of consultees with the need to deliver a windfarm that can bring about the range of environmental and economic benefits that NLEI can deliver.
“In combination with our pumped storage and windfarm developments at the former Glenmuckloch opencast works, NLEI could put Upper Nithsdale at the heart of delivering the Scottish Government’s energy strategy. Together, these projects can generate and capture renewable electricity that can be stored and used when it is most needed.
“NLEI has received support from Sanquhar Community Council and more than 100 individuals in the area. We hope that the Council will take on board the positives of NLEI when considering their response to the Scottish Government.”