THE first set of turbine blades for Baillie Wind Farm will arrive at Scrabster harbour next week.
In a transport exercise planned to minimise disruption, the 33 blades will be trucked nearly 10 miles to a holding site at the former Dounreay airfield.
This is likely to take up to three days following the delivery vessel’s expected arrival on Monday and will be carried out to avoid peak traffic periods related to Dounreay.
Each blade – at nearly 44 metres – will form an extra-long load, and will have a police escort on the A9 port road and A836 transfer route to the secure temporary storage site.
From there, the blades will later be taken the remaining five miles for erection at Baillie Hill, commencing in August.
Next week’s consignment will be followed by another 30 within a few weeks, and by five more shiploads containing sections for the 65-metre towers, as well as the nacelles (the tower-top housings for the turbine gearbox and other equipment).
Ongoing development of the project has entailed an on-site workforce of up to 40 construction workers, engineers and others, with related work including the on-site electricity substation.
Erection and testing of the turbines is expected to be completed this autumn, with the project feeding power into the grid by November and fully commissioned in early 2013.
The wind farm’s developer and future operator, Baillie Wind Farm Ltd, is a joint venture between European energy company Statkraft and local landowners Tom and Steve Pottinger.
Its maximum generation capacity of more than 50 megawatts is sufficient to power several thousand homes.
Sergio Castedo, director of Statkraft UK Ltd and Baillie Wind Farm Ltd, said: "This is a large and complex project whose successful development brings a range of local economic and community benefits, as well as contributing to national and global environmental aims through generation of renewable power.
"We are looking forward to moving into operation this year and to a long and productive association with Caithness."
Once operational, Baillie will generate an expected £100,000 annually into a West Caithness Community Fund for local initiatives, plus a further £25,000 a year for a new business development fund to be managed by
the Caithness Chamber of Commerce.