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Halsary community benefit fund will be £150,000 a year, says ScottishPower Renewables

By Gordon Calder

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The Halsary wind farm will result in a £150,000 community benefit fund.
The Halsary wind farm will result in a £150,000 community benefit fund.

The community benefit fund from the Halsary wind farm will be £150,000 a year, the company behind the project has revealed.

ScottishPower Renewables said the money will be available during the "operational lifetime" of the Halsary wind farm, south of Spittal.

A spokeswoman said that after discussions with the local community it was decided that 40 per cent of the money, £60,000, would be put in a Caithness-wide fund, with £30,000 going to each of the three community councils areas nearest the development – Halkirk, Watten and Latheron, Lybster and Clyth.

The fund will be administered by Caithness Voluntary Group.

The spokeswoman said the community benefit fund is about to be launched in the "next few weeks". She added: "We are still finalising the details."

The 15-turbine wind farm, which can generate enough electricity to power almost 20,000 homes, represents a £37 million investment.

It is thought the Halsary community benefit fund will be the first in the far north to include a Caithness-wide dimension.

The wind farm, which was built to help meet the green energy needs of the Tesco supermarket chain, was developed as part of a power purchase agreement (PPA), making it the first ScottishPower Renewables wind farm to be built without a government support scheme.

PPAs allow developers to invest in and build new green infrastructure projects while corporate customers get a source of clean energy and a reduction in their carbon footprint.

As previously reported, former Thurso and Northwest Caithness councillor Donnie Mackay, who stood down at last week's local elections, claimed it would be better if the money from community benefit funds was used to help discount bills for local people at a time of rising energy costs.

Speaking at a recent meeting of Castletown and District Community Council, he said: "It would be far better if people had cheaper electricity. Everyone in the community would benefit from that."

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