About the project

Summary

The initial proposals for the Fiodhag Wind Farm are for up to 46 turbines to the south and east of the village of Tomich. The project would be on commercial forestry and open moorland, adjacent to the existing 400kv Beauly-Denny overhead power line.

The majority of the proposed location has been identified by The Highland Council as having the potential for wind farm development, and we are working to define the constraints in the other parts of the site.

Turbines would have a maximum tip height of 149.9m and a capacity of between four and six MegaWatts (MW), giving a maximum capacity of up to 276MW.

The initial layout has been informed by a number of technical, environmental, planning and commercial factors, and designed to minimise visual impacts from settlements and key routes through the neighbouring straths and glens. This represents the starting point for the design process and will be subject to revision in light of the environmental surveys we are taking forward and feedback from consultees and local communities.

Our final design will set out the intended layout of access tracks and electrical equipment, but vento ludens is already committed to ensuring that construction traffic avoids the villages of Cannich and Tomich through the development of an off-road access from the A831.


Environment

Environmental Impact Assessment

Our specialist environmental and technical consultants are now progressing many of the studies that will make up the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  The information and data from these studies will be used to refine our proposals and also to identify ways in which we could remove, reduce or mitigate any potential impacts.

General Approach

The final proposal will include provisions for a net positive enhancement to the local environment through a Habitat Management Plan and compensatory planting for the areas of the development planned within existing forestry. For example, over the coming months, we will be liaising with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) and other consultees as we develop plans for replacing the trees felled around the turbine locations and associated infrastructure with native tree species and the mitigating effects in areas of Ground Water Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems or peatland. This would provide new habitat for local wildlife and benefits to the natural environment within and surrounding the site.

Climate Emergency

Policy Context

The Scottish Government has declared a ‘climate emergency’ and set a target for Scotland to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030, and to become a ‘net-zero society by 2045’ following advice in May 2019 from the Committee on Climate Change.[1]

There is a global climate emergency.  The evidence is irrefutable.  The science is clear.  And people have been clear: they expect action.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark warning last year:  the world must act now.  By 2030 it will be too late to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

For those saying this is too much and too expensive, the evidence shows that the global cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of action.  Future generations will end up paying even more if we fail to take action now.

Rosanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform [2]

The Highland Council declared a ‘climate and ecological emergency’ in May 2019,[3] and has a target for a carbon neutral Inverness in a low carbon Highlands by 2025, as part of its Carbon CLEVER initiative.[4]

The UK Government has also set a target of net zero emissions by 2050.[5] The Committee on Climate Change estimates that this would require a quadrupling of electricity generation from low carbon sources such as wind power in order to meet wider government climate change goals such as the electrification of the transport and heat sectors,[6] which will be driven by policies such as the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.[7] 

Fiodhag Wind Farm Proposal

The Fiodhag Wind Farm would contribute to progress towards Scotland’s climate change targets by producing carbon-free electricity.

Our initial proposals could produce up to 650GWh each year,[8] equivalent to the annual power needs of 175,000 homes,[9] dependent on the ultimate design of the wind farm and the turbine model deployed.

That would mean the project displacing up to 290,000 tonnes of CO2 from the British electricity system each year,[10] equal to the emissions savings of removing some 130,000 cars from our roads. [11]


Economic Impacts

Opportunities for Local Businesses

We are committed to engaging with local businesses and aim to place as much work in the local area as possible.

To achieve that we intend to:

  • Reach out directly to potential suppliers
  • Engage with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Business Gateway
  • Hold local events to highlight contract opportunities
  • Advertise opportunities on the open4business portal

We would welcome enquiries on our procurement plans and processes from local businesses at any time.


Community Benefit and Ownership

Summary

In addition to the positive economic impacts of the development during construction and operations, vento ludens is committed to developing a significant community benefit package which could be worth more than £1 million every year over the lifetime of the wind farm, dependent on the ultimate capacity of the project.

Good Practice Principles

Our work to develop more detailed proposals for the community benefit arrangements will be guided by the Scottish Government’s Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit. [12] Our starting point will be to engage with existing community companies and charities to gather their views on the appropriate area of benefit, management structures and local priorities. We will then develop initial proposals and consult on these in due course, though we would welcome views at any time on how the community benefit arrangements should be structured and how these should be focused at any time in the development of the project.

Separation from Planning Process

It is important to stress that community benefits are voluntary initiatives and, as such, are not a material consideration in the planning process. If we do ultimately proceed to apply for consent, our application will be assessed against the provisions in Scottish Planning Policy, the local authority’s development plan, and any other material considerations.

Likewise, contributing to discussions on community benefits does not affect an individual’s, community or organisation’s right to express a view on our proposals, or to support or object to these.

Community Ownership

vento ludens will also be offering the local community the chance to take an ownership stake in the development in order to maximise the local economic impacts. We will be actively consulting on this proposal given the many ways in which it could be delivered, and to ensure we can tailor this to reflect the aspirations of local people and organisations.


Process

We continue to analyse the information generated from our survey work and the feedback gained at local exhibitions and expect to finalise a revised design later this year.

In normal circumstances we would then intend to hold another series of local exhibitions in order to talk through and explain the proposed changes, though this may not be possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. If that is the case we would seek to hold a ‘virtual exhibition’ with materials available to view online and the opportunity for interaction with the project team online or by phone as per the Scottish Government’s guidance for public consultation as part of the planning process.


References

[1] Scotland to become a net zero society (Scottish Government news release, 2019)

[2] Statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform to the Scottish Parliament on 14 May 2019 (Scottish Government, 2019). Accessible at

[3] Council to discuss ‘next steps’ in Climate Change actions (Highland Council, 2019)

[4] Climate Change – Carbon Clever (The Highland Council, 2019)

[5] UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 2019)

[6] See page 75 of Net Zero – The UK’s Contribution to Stopping Global Warming (Committee on Climate Change, 2019)

[7] Prime Minister launches UN Climate Summit in the UK, HM Government Press Release (HM Government, 2020)

[8] Based on average Scottish onshore wind load factor from 2011 to 2018 of 27% detailed in Renewable electricity capacity and generation (ET 6.1)

[9] Based on 2017 average annual consumption per UK household of 3,729kWh as per Sub-National Electricity and Gas Consumption Statistics Regional and Local Authority.

[10] Based on 450 tonnes of carbon dioxide per GWh of electricity supplied by ‘All Fossil Fuels’ in the Digest of UK Energy Statistics (BEIS, July 2019) p96 Table 5E (“Estimated carbon dioxide emissions per GWh of electricity supplied 2016 to 2018”)

[11] Based on 69.7m tonnes of CO2 emissions from all cars in the UK in 2016 (see p20 of New Car Report 2018, Society of Motor Manufacturers) and approximately 31m cars on the road in that year (see All Vehicles Statistical Dataset, BEIS – Licensed vehicles by body type (quarterly): Great Britain and United Kingdom) giving an estimate of annual emissions per car of 2.25 tonnes of CO2

[12] Good Practice Principles for Community Benefit (Scottish Government, 2019)