A formal application has been submitted to the Scottish Government for the creation of a significant energy project in the North Lowther hills in Dumfries and Galloway.
The North Lowther Energy Initiative (NLEI), a partnership between Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables, has submitted the application for a wind farm located to the east of Sanquhar and north west of Wanlockhead. The project would see the creation of landscape scale habitat management plans in addition to the windfarm development.
The design being submitted for the windfarm planning application comprises of 35 turbines, each with a rated output 4.2 Mega Watts (MW), giving a maximum installed capacity of 147 MW. This would provide enough clean energy to power more than 78,000 homes in the area. The wind farm will also make an important contribution to the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets without government subsidies.
More than £200million would be invested in the North Lowther Energy Initiative, the latest in a series of significant projects undertaken by Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables in the region.
Once operational, the NLEI windfarm is forecast to create seven local and 33 regional jobs. Over the lifetime of the windfarm, it is estimated the project would contribute £33.6 million to public finances through rates.
If the application is successful, the project is committed to providing community benefit to the local area in line with the recommended rate of £5,000 per MW. Depending on the final operational capacity of the site, it is estimated that this will generate up to £735,000 per annum for local communities – more than £18 million over the lifetime of the development.
A consultation exercise on community benefit has been undertaken to independently assess the aspirations of the communities close to the proposed site. Views have been sought from community councils, local groups, businesses and individuals over the past year to explore how they could utilise a community benefit fund.
John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “The plans for North Lowther are part of a wider renewable energy and land use strategy that can deliver very significant social, economic and environmental benefits for the region.
“Should this application be approved, it would open up tremendous potential for the area, particularly in conjunction with our current proposals for a pumped storage hydro scheme, which has already received planning consent. Together, these projects would involve more than 300 local jobs and secure and prolong job creation in the area.
“The feedback we have received to date on this project from residents and the community council has been particularly useful for the project team, allowing them to enhance the design of the project.
“The North Lowther Energy Initiative is the latest in a series of recent investments by Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables in the local region, including the restoration of the Glenmuckloch open cast coal mine, Glenmuckloch wind farm and community-owned wind turbines, the potential for a pumped storage hydro scheme at the same site and the Crawick Multiverse. Together, we believe these projects combine to create a significant positive impact in the local area.”
Alan Baker, managing director of 2020 Renewables, said: “This project has the potential to provide clean energy for more than 78,000 homes across the region, assisting the targets set nationally on renewable energy generation. However, aside from generating electricity, there is scope for widespread habitat enhancement which could be tailored to benefit birds, particularly raptors and waders.
“Proposals for management measures within the development area include management of wet modified bog and blanket bog, dry heath, and management of riparian woodland, including planting of up to 297 ha of native riparian planting. Whilst we realise that much of the attention will focus on the energy aspect to the proposal, it should be acknowledged that there is likely to be significant net conservation benefits to the North Lowther Energy Initiative as well.”
Notes to editors
- The development would contribute to the attainment of the UK and Scottish Government policies of encouraging renewable energy developments.
- The UK legally binding target of 15% of energy to come from renewables by 2020 (and the Scottish Government target of 30% by 2020) remain major challenges. At the end of 2015, renewable energy accounted for only 8.3% of energy consumption in the UK and 15.2% in Scotland against these respective targets.
- Given the excellent wind resource on the development area (a capacity factor estimated at 36%), the potential electricity generation will be of the order of 343,242 Mega-Watt Hours (“MWh”) per annum.
- The estimated economic impact of construction in the regional area is £35 million and 279 job years, and in the local area of £3.4 million and 29 job years.
- It is estimated that the total rateable value would be £2.7 million and that the Development could contribute £1.3 million annually to public finances.
- The scheme’s environmental statement identifies that there is scope for widespread habitat enhancement which could be tailored to benefit birds, particularly raptors and waders. There is also scope to provide funding for a habitat project officer. The project officer role would be funded for 10 years by NLEI Ltd, with their work guided by an advisory board made up of key stakeholders in relation to Hen Harrier Conservation and land management. A key benefit of this long term programme will be an enhanced understanding of the population dynamics of the hen harrier population breeding and wintering in Southern Scotland
Buccleuch comprises the business interests of the Buccleuch Family. These include commercial property investment and development, hospitality and tourism, energy, rural land management, rural building design, conversion and project management, sporting and wholesale tree nursery. Buccleuch business activity also includes the management, maintenance and improvement of the significant heritage Scottish Estates (Bowhill, Queensberry, Dalkeith and Langholm) and Boughton Estate, Northamptonshire.
About 2020 Renewables
2020 Renewables is a dynamic company specialising in developing, constructing and operating renewable energy projects throughout the United Kingdom. Our team have extensive knowledge in working in the renewable energy industry which dates back to 1990.
To date 2020 Renewables has developed a portfolio of projects with a total capacity of over 530MW of onshore wind projects, principally in Scotland. The company supported the construction of the operational Maerdy Windfarm, in South Wales and developed, built and operate the Ardoch Over Enoch Windfarm near Eaglesham, Scotland, which reached commercial operation in 2014. They currently have a 35MW windfarm in construction near Newton Stewart which is due to be operational in early 2017.
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