Consultation starts on Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm community benefit fund
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
Consultation is under way on a community benefit fund linked to a wind farm being developed off the north coast of Caithness.
The operators of the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (PFOWF) say the fund will seek to meet the needs of the community while addressing climate challenges.
Energy-efficient refurbishments of halls, better access to green transport and increased biodiversity within community woodlands are suggested as examples of projects that would be supported.
The wind farm will be located around 6.5 kilometres off Dounreay and will have a maximum of 10 turbines with an installed capacity of up to 100 megawatts.
An online survey is available until the middle of next month, while drop-in events are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday next week in Reay and Thurso respectively.
The fund will support initiatives that benefit community council areas along the north coast of Caithness and Sutherland with a focus on the coastal communities nearest to the wind farm. These include Dunnet and Canisbay; Castletown; Thurso; Halkirk; Bower; Caithness West; Melvich; Strathy and Armadale; Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra; Tongue; and Durness.
The community council area nearest to the scheme, Caithness West, will be considered a priority area for the fund.
Foundation Scotland, an independent grant-making charity, has been commissioned to undertake the consultation.
Alan Hannah, managing director at COP UK, the organisation managing the development of PFOWF, said: “The announcement of the Pentland community fund follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Scrabster Harbour Trust late last year.
"These announcements exemplify the project’s commitment to ensuring the Caithness and Sutherland area benefits economically and socially from the project.
"The fund is an important vehicle that aims to support the immediate, emerging and long-term needs of the community, including, but not limited to, addressing challenges associated with climate change.”
When asked about the total value of the fund, a spokesperson said: "This is currently being considered as part of the work stream."
The online survey about the community fund can be found on Foundation Scotland’s website and will remain open until June 17.
Eilidh Coll, Foundation Scotland’s Caithness-based representative, can be contacted throughout May and June at email@example.com or 07801 530218.
She said: “This is an exciting opportunity for local people to help shape the development of the fund and influence the sorts of projects that will ultimately be in receipt of the funding. We’re keen to hear from people across the whole fund area of benefit."
In-person public consultation events on PFOWF are being held in Reay golf clubhouse on May 11 (2pm to 8pm) and in the North Coast Visitor Centre, Thurso, on May 12 (11am to 5pm).
More details are on the PFOWF website.
The creation of the community benefit fund runs parallel to the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Education and Training Fund. This is a new scholarship to support students going on to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) at university or college.
The education and training fund will run over four years and each year will provide four students – three from Thurso High and one from Farr High – with £1000 to support their future studies, a total of £16,000 over the four-year period. Each school will select recipients of the fund according to the award criteria, with the first round of selections due to take place in the coming weeks.
The proposed maximum blade-tip height for the PFOWF turbines is 300 metres.
Andy Blyth, floating wind environment and consents manager at COP UK, said: “This blade-tip height is seen as optimum to future-proof the site and ensure the development can implement continuing innovations in wind turbine generator technology within the project timeframes.
“The turbines, at this height, have been photomontaged from a number of viewpoints and will be available to view at the consultation event next week. We’ve also had a 3D computer model created allowing members of the public to see how the turbines and the substation may look from locations along the coast.”