Pentland wind farm developers want benefits to be 'far-reaching'
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The developers of a wind farm off the north coast of Caithness have pledged that they want the benefits to be "far-reaching" – both for the local supply chain and for the community.
A second round of community consultations on the Pentland Floating Offshore Wind Farm (PFOWF) took place in person in Reay and Thurso last week to give local residents an opportunity to view updated plans for the scheme and give further feedback.
Members of the project team were on hand to talk the public through the changes and answer any further questions ahead of a detailed planning application being submitted later this year.
Online consultation events were also held on Wednesday.
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. The proposed maximum blade-tip height for the PFOWF turbines is 300 metres.
Floating wind consents and environment manager Andy Blyth said: “We’d like to thank everybody that took the time to attend the consultation events and for the positive feedback we received.
"Following earlier community engagement, we’ve endeavoured as much as possible to take the feedback on board in this consultation process. The project team is now reviewing the feedback received during the consultations and investigating how it can be factored into the project design for submission.
“At every stage of this project, we’ve aimed to consult as widely and comprehensively as possible and want the benefits the development can bring to be far-reaching, both in terms of the local supply chain and community benefit.”
Alongside consultation on the project itself, residents were invited to have their say on the proposed community benefit fund which would be managed by Foundation Scotland – an independent grant-making charity that has been commissioned to collect local views through a series of in-person and online events.
Eilidh Coll, Foundation Scotland’s Caithness-based representative, who attended the consultation events, said: “Early discussions suggest that a community benefit with priority given to the community, or communities, closest to the scheme would be a positive step and well received.
“Common issues to emerge included the lack of local electric vehicle charging points and suitable waste disposal points for campervans in the area. The cost-of-living crisis was also highlighted as an issue and any projects intended to help local people tackle this would be welcomed.
"There was also significant support for community growing projects, particularly where young people could be included.”
An online survey is open, allowing residents to share feedback on the Pentland Community Fund. It can be accessed at www.foundationscotland.org.uk/pentland until June 17. Alternatively, Eilidh Coll can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07801 530218.
The creation of the Pentland Community Benefit Fund runs in parallel to the PFOWF Education and Training Fund. This is a new scholarship to support students going on to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at university or college.
The education and training fund will run over four years and annually will provide four students – three from Thurso High and one from Farr High – with £1000 to support their future studies, amounting to £16,000 over four years.
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.
Environmental impact assessments for PFOWF are being prepared and will be submitted to Marine Scotland and Highland Council in the summer.