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Wind farm near Castletown could start in 2027 and create up to 15 jobs, says developer

By Gordon Calder

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WORK on a proposed wind farm near Castletown could start in 2027 and create up to 15 jobs, if it gets approval from Highland Council.

An application for the two turbines and battery energy storage system at Swarclett, one kilometre south-east of Durran Mains, is expected to be submitted by Wind2 Limited – the company behind the initiative – in November.

That was said by Hannah Brown, at a public consultation in the Drill Hall in Castletown on Tuesday afternoon.

The turbines would measure 149.9 metres high at the tip and generate a total of 9.6 megawatts of power. The development would also create a community benefit fund of almost £50,000 a year which could be split between Castletown and Bower although an element may be provided for a Caithness-wide fund.

Mrs Brown said 24 members of the public attended the consultation which took place between 4pm and 7pm with people asking questions about a number of topics but mostly on the visibility of the wind farm and the community benefit fund.

Wind2 is based in north Wales but has staff in Cromarty, Perth and Edinburgh, and wants local companies to benefit as much as possible from the project which would create between 10 and 15 jobs during the construction phase of around 18 months. The manufacture of the turbines is likely to be undertaken in Germany or China and shipped here.

An impression of what the Swarclett wind turbines could look like if consented by Highland Council
An impression of what the Swarclett wind turbines could look like if consented by Highland Council

Mrs Brown – one of the company's Cromarty staff – said the equipment would be driven from the port to the site and explained that Scrabster could be an option although the choice would depend on the preferred access route.

Asked about any plans to expand the scheme at a later date, she replied: "That is unlikely as we are quite constrained by the location."

Fraser Mackenzie, the company's Cromarty-based development director, was pleased with the response from the public and said the aim of the event was to give people a chance to express their views and to explain to them what is being proposed.

He said Castletown and Bower could each receive around £25,000 a year from the community benefit fund although he said a Caithness-wide element would be "a legitimate consideration." The fund is expected to generate up to £1.4 million over its 30-year lifetime.

Elaine Forbes, who stays at Borgie Mains about one and a half miles from the proposed Swarclett wind farm, was at the consultation event. She said: "All the information is available here and I have been impressed by what I have seen. I think this is a good opportunity for the local community to get access to funding. Castletown is one of the areas which has not benefited so far from these funds."

Atmos Consulting Ltd – the agent for Wind2 Limited – is preparing a full planning application for submission to Highland Council. It will include supporting information, including an Environmental Impact Assessment Report. A scoping report was submitted to the local authority in February last year.

Wind2 is to hold another public consultation meeting in Bower in the community hall on July 26. It will take place from 4pm to 7pm.

The company, which was formed in 2016, also has plans to build 11 turbines at Kirkton Wind Farm, near Melvich in Sutherland in conjunction with Octopus Energy.

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